GEORGE TOWN - Police have crippled one of the largest drug rings in the northern region with the arrest of five syndicate members and the seizure of RM20mil (S$6.7 million) worth of drugs.
The five suspects are two local men, aged 29 and 58, a 52-year-old woman and two Iranian chemists aged 24 and 27.
The 58-year-old man is believed to be the mastermind of the syndicate.
Seized during the operation were 324kg of syabu in liquid form, various chemicals used to process the drug, RM4,000, two cars, a motorcycle and jewellery worth RM64,400.
The operation, from 10.20pm on Thursday until the wee hours of Friday, was carried out by Bukit Aman's Narcotics Criminal Inves-tigation Department and the Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (Sting).
The raiding team first hit a shop lot in Taman Sri Rambai, Bukit Mertajam, on Thursday night, where they caught the two Iranian chemists red-handed processing the drugs under the watchful eye of one of the local men.
This led to the arrest of the other local man and the woman in George Town and in Jelutong respectively in the wee hours of Friday.
Bukit Aman Narcotics CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said the upper floor of the shop lot in Taman Sri Rambai was used as a drug processing laboratory.
"The two Iranians were hired by the syndicate.
"Checks on their passports showed they entered Malaysia on July 12.
"We believe that the syabu produced by this syndicate was meant for the local market only," he told a press conference at the Penang police contingent headquarters in Penang Road here yesterday.
He added that the police would continue investigating the syndicate's linkages.
Comm Mohd Mokhtar also said that all the five suspects would be remanded until Thursday to facilitate in investigations under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for drug trafficking, which carries the mandatory death sentence.
He said one of the local male suspects had a criminal record.
On Friday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar had commended Sting on its success.
He tweeted: Syabas STING @PDRMsia berjaya bongkar makmal haram di BM Pg. Rampas 324kg cecair syabu b'nilai lebih RM15M. T'kap 5 org (2 Iran) Go PDRM Go.(Congratulations to Sting for busting drug laboratory in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Seized 324kg syabu in liquid form worth RM15m. Nabbed five people).
In a related development, Comm Mohd Mokhtar said the Narcotics CID and Sting had from Jan 1 to Aug 20 busted 25 drug labs and arrested 119,738 people nationwide.