KUCHING: Sarawak Customs seized two shipping containers with 46.7 tonnes of firecrackers and fireworks, the biggest haul in Sarawak this year, with the arrest of three locals on May 1.
Its director Herman Shah Abdullah said that the suspects aged between 44 and 60, were apprehended at Jalan Batu 7 by a Kuching Customs enforcement unit in an operations dubbed Ops Letup.
The suspects were transporting the containers using two trailer trucks to Jalan Haji Baki-Batu Kitang when the team stopped them around 5.30pm for inspection.
“It led to the discovery of various firecrackers and fireworks weighing around 46,783.1kg, inside the two containers.
“The value of the seizures was estimated to be RM754,152.12 and its estimated tax and duties are at RM386,198.88.
“All three suspects were arrested to facilitate investigations,” he said in a press conference at Kuching Customs Enforcement Store yesterday (May 11).
He noted that the containers, believed to be from the northern part of the state, were scheduled to arrive in Kuching late at night to avoid detection from authorities.
However, it arrived in Kuching early and it was successfully thwarted by the Customs enforcement unit.
The illegal goods are said to be supplied around Kuching due to its high demand in view of the coming festive seasons — Hari Raya and Gawai Dayak.
Herman explained that the goods are believed to be imported from China with a valid (import) permit.
“But we believe that the importer made a false declaration that the quantity declared is not the same as the quantity imported and it is done with the intention of cheating tax payments.
“The case is being investigated under Section 133(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for making a false declaration and Section 135(1)(g) of the same Act for avoiding to pay tax fraudulently,” he told.
To date, Sarawak Customs have recorded 15 cases involving the seizure of firecrackers and fireworks with a total weight of 60,178.39kg, its total seizure value at RM795,076.67 and its estimated tax, RM513,166.87.