Malaysia seizes record haul of crystal meth worth S$35 million

   Authorities said the intercepted shipments were part of a multibillion-dollar illicit drug trade that stretches across Australia, South-east Asia and China.
Authorities said the intercepted shipments were part of a multibillion-dollar illicit drug trade that stretches across Australia, South-east Asia and China.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia's maritime agency said on Sunday (Dec 13) it had seized more than two tonnes of crystal methamphetamine worth RM105.9 million (S$35 million) from a boat off the country's west coast, its largest haul of the drug.

Malaysia has made several record busts of crystal meth in recent years.

The authorities have said the intercepted shipments were part of a multibillion-dollar illicit drug trade that stretches across Australia, South-east Asia and China.

The latest discovery came on Wednesday when a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) patrol encountered a recreational boat moving suspiciously off Penang island, MMEA director-general Mohamad Zubil Mat Som said in a statement.

A chase ensued when the boat's lone occupant, a 26-year-old Malaysian man, ignored orders to stop.

He then attempted to escape by jumping into the water but was later arrested, Admiral Datuk Mohamad Zubil said.

Officials inspecting the boat found 130 sacks containing 2,118kg of crystal methamphetamine disguised as packets of Chinese tea.

The origin and destination of the drugs are still under investigation.

The tea packaging, though, was similar to that found in previous shipments suspected to have come from Myanmar, Adm Mohamad Zubil told Reuters.

"This is the biggest seizure in MMEA's 15-year history," he said.

Crystal methamphetamine is a highly addictive synthetic drug also known as speed, shabu and yaba.

"As big as two-plus tonnes is - and it's massive - the syndicates that run the drug trade in Asia can easily replace shipments like these," said Mr Jeremy Douglas, South-east Asian regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. "The region needs a forward-looking strategy that addresses root causes if they ever hope to get ahead of the situation."