SIBU: Customs officials have seized illicit cigarettes and alcoholic beverages with unpaid duties and taxes valued over RM13.3 million at the banks of Sungai Rajang on July 20.
The contrabands worth approximately RM2.5 million were found inside 27 shipping containers after Sibu Customs enforcement officers detained a ship moored to the banks behind a premises at Jalan Teng Kung Suk 4, Upper Lanang, for inspections.
Sarawak Customs director Herman Shah Abdullah said the raid was carried out around 8.15am and it involved the arrests of five men (four foreigners and a local).
“The suspects aged between 22 and 50 were suspected to be involved in an attempt to transport and transfer the illicit goods using a ship.
“The team have found about 361,134 litres of beer, 8,395.2 litres of stout, 142.8 litres of whiskey and 16.852 million cigarettes, stored inside the 27 shipping containers.
“The goods are worth around RM2,547,858.69 and its unpaid duties and taxes is estimated to be at RM13,388,684.38,” he said.
It is believed that the illegal goods were smuggled into Sarawak from a foreign country.
Herman pointed out that the ship had entered through Sungai Rajang to transport the containers for the purpose of distributing illegal goods throughout Sarawak.
The case is being investigated under Section 135 (1) (a) and Section 135 (1) (e) of the Customs Act 1967 for importing prohibited goods without a valid permit and for transporting and transferring duty-not-paid or prohibited goods.
If convicted, the suspects may be fined not less than 10 times the amount of customs duty or RM100,000 according to any greater amount, and not more than 20 times the value of the amount of customs duty or RM500,000 according to any greater amount, or a jail term of up to five years, or both at once.
The public are urged to assist the department in the fight against smuggling activities, especially of cigarettes, liquor, fireworks and drugs.
“Smuggling not only harms the country in terms of losing revenue, but it also poses a threat to national security and the wellbeing of the people,” Herman said.