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Customs destroys RM1.6m in smuggled cigarettes

Published on: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: About half a million packs of contraband cigarettes worth RM1.6 million were destroyed by the State Customs Department in Inanam, Wednesday.

Its Director Datuk Dr Janathan Kandok said a total of 540,400 packs of smuggled cigarettes with unpaid taxes amounting to RM4.08 million were destroyed in the incinerator of a sawmill in Inanam.

All the cigarettes were seized from operations, court actions and compound cases in 2009 and 2011 after tip-offs in Penampang and Keningau.

"Of the seized 540,900 packs, a total of 343,500 packs were white cigarettes (100 per cent tobacco content) worth RM1.03 million with unpaid taxes of RM2.9 million.

"The remaining 196,900 packs were clove cigarettes (adulterated cigarettes) of various brands worth RM590,700 with unpaid taxes of RM1.2 million," he said, adding that the disposal was the first destruction of contraband this year.

He said the department will go all out to curb the smuggling of cigarettes especially by peddlers at five-foot ways as this year has been declared "action year" for the department to empower its enforcement.

"Ops Pacak which is an integrated effort between Customs and City Hall enforcement personnel to curb illegal selling of the contraband cigarettes will be continued in the city.

"For the whole of Sabah, integrated operations like roadblocks, patrols at sea and land, as well as inspection of containers and permits will be intensified to tackle the smuggling of critical commodities like cigarettes, and alcohol, among others," he said, adding those measures are intensified although the department is facing a shortage of manpower.

On the latest success, Dr Janathan said his men foiled an attempt to smuggle 240,000 packs of cigarettes worth RM800,000 with unpaid taxes of RM2.5 million, that were discovered inside a lorry in Keningau, two weeks ago.

"The seizure of the contraband was the biggest this month in Sabah and my men thwarted the transport of the cigarettes at a transit stage before the items were handed to wholesalers and end users like sundry shops, peddlers and smokers.

"My men conducted surveillance on the activity for three days before acting on the lorry laden with the smuggled item," he said.

He did not say if the drivers were caught but in most cases only the goods end up being seized.

On active illicit trade of smuggled cigarettes in Inanam, Dr. Janathan said the department has categorised Inanam as a black area as the demand for such cigarettes still exists although operations are conducted regularly.