Lucrative returns among reasons cigarette smuggling still rampant

KUALA LUMPUR: Lucrative returns are among the reasons why cigarette smuggling activities are still rampant in the country.

In fact, cigarette smuggling activities have increased over the past two years despite the Covid-19 pandemic and regular enforcement operations mobilised by the authorities, according to 4th Battalion of the General Operations Force (GOF4) commanding officer, Supt Rizal Mohamed.

He said GOF4 managed to seize 7,982 cartons of cigarettes of various brands worth RM1,430,251 in 2020 and 115,526 cartons of contraband cigarettes worth RM25,985,425 last year.

“A total of 9,415 cartons of cigarettes worth RM1,833,133 were seized and six individuals arrested from January to March this year,” he told Bernama.

Rizal said the syndicates used different tactics and various modus operandi to prevent detection of their illicit activities.

“The syndicates are not scared of the authorities due to the high demand and lucrative returns,” he said.

Rizal said most cigarettes were smuggled in from Indonesia and Thailand and the syndicates managed to avoid detection as they were hiding behind the use of legal route known as the ‘elephant trail’ in major ports.

He said every day, there were tens of thousands of boxes of cigarettes entering Selangor through the port and it was quite difficult to detect the contraband items as they had been falsely declared as “permitted goods”.

Therefore, Rizal said security controls at all entry points such as major ports needed to be tightened with the help of relevant agencies.

He suggested that more scanners be installed at ports to detect prohibited items in containers, in addition to increasing the number of enforcement personnel to curb the smuggling activities.- Bernama