40,000 cartons of cigarettes seized in Malaysia

SEPANG - The Customs Department intercepted a shipment of 40,000 cartons of cigarettes which were falsely declared as plastic products here with unpaid duties amounting to more than RM4 million ($1.43 million)

KLIA Customs director Datuk Chik Omar Chik Lim said the items, which arrived in a container from China on May 18, were declared as 928 cartons of plastic products comprising chopsticks, containers, bottles and wares worth RM109,431.

Upon inspection, the department found that there were 8,000,000 sticks of illegal cigarettes in 800 boxes.

The items were seized last Wednesday at about 5pm in Port Klang.

Chik Omar said authorities were tracking down the perpetrator behind the smuggling attempt.

"We tried contacting the company but it turned out that the name and address provided were false," he said at a press conference at the department headquarters yesterday.

The offenders face up to a RM500,000 fine, five years jail, or both.

Three attempts to smuggle in drugs worth more than RM1.7mil were also foiled by the department with the arrests of two foreigners, including a Ukrainian woman, between May 11 and June 15.

Chik Omar said in the first case, a 35-year-old Indian man was detained at about 6.45am at the KL International Airport 2 (KLIA2) with 6.3kg of methamphetamine worth more than RM1.2mil.

The illicit item was found in a secret compartment of the suspect's luggage. He had just arrived from Bangalore, India, on May 11.

"The drugs were hidden in 49 scent sticks," he said.

In the second case, two parcels containing a total of 840g methamphetamine were confiscated at a courier service centre at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on May 18.

The parcels, which arrived from Shenzen, China, arrived on May 13 but were not claimed.

"Intelligence led us to the seizure of the parcels. We found each of the parcels contained an alloy roller which had white powder, believed to be methamphetamine, stuffed in it."

He said the drugs were believed to be worth about RM157,700.

A 27-year-old Ukrainian woman was arrested on June 15 for attempting to smuggle in about 2kg of syabu worth RM392,920 stuffed in containers disguised as facial whitening cream.

The woman, who arrived from Hong Kong, was immediately detained at KLIA after acting suspiciously.

Chik Omar said all suspects had been charged in court under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act which carries the mandatory death sentence upon conviction.