KEPALA BATAS: A total of 18.49 million sticks of contraband cigarettes were seized after police raided a storeroom and warehouse in Taman Selamat at Tasek Gelugor here.
Four trucks, three of them chiller trucks, as well as two cars were also seized when police arrested five suspects on Wednesday.
Bukit Aman Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department director Datuk Zainal Abidin Kasim said the cigarettes were valued at RM13.86mil, while the vehicles at RM300,000.
He said as the trucks were registered with a fresh produce company, they had valid documents to pass roadblocks and managed to dodge inspections.
“Following months of surveillance on the properties, police launched the raid and arrested the suspects aged between 36 and 63.
“We believe the syndicate has been operating for some time and their main distribution areas are from the northern to central regions.
“The supplies are believed to have been shipped by sea before arriving for storage at the warehouse.
“There was nothing in the warehouse except for all these cartons of contraband cigarettes,” he said during a press conference at the North Seberang Prai District police headquarters in Bertam yesterday.
Zainal Abidin said as the police only conducted random checks on vehicles passing roadblocks, there was a possibility that those transporting contraband cigarettes might have been missed.
“Checks on vehicles are conducted randomly, and most lorries almost always have valid permits.
“We will investigate the company as well as track down the mastermind behind the syndicate,” he said.
All suspects, who have no criminal records have been remanded for four days to facilitate investigations under Section 135(1)(d) Customs Act 1967.
Also present were Penang police chief Comm Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan and North Seberang Prai District OCPD Asst Comm Noorzainy Mohd Noor.