JOHOR BARU - Malaysian authorities in Johor Baru have foiled an attempt by a boat to smuggle various brands of cigarettes and liquor valued at RM2.5 million (S$837,674) into the country, the Bernama news agency reported.
The seizure of the contraband was the biggest so far in the waters of Johor, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's (MMEA) Southern Region director Abu Bakar Idris said on Monday (Feb 12).
A team from the agency on Saturday intercepted the boat, which had flown the Singapore flag in an attempt to trick the authorities, at around 6pm about 1.9 nautical miles off Tanjung Piai in Pontian.
"The MMEA team on patrol became suspicious upon spotting the boat anchored in the waters. A check on the boat revealed 916,500 cartons of cigarettes and 3,048 bottles of liquor of various brands hidden under canvas sheets," he said.
The MMEA said it had arrested nine Indonesian crew from the boat and seized the contraband.
"We arrested the nine crew, including the skipper, all aged between 25 and 53. All of them had passports but the skipper failed to present the relevant documents," he said to reporters.
"We will continue to step up patrols in the waters of Johor to curb the widespread smuggling and other crimes," he said.
The Straits Times reported last week that Indonesian authorities had captured a fishing boat, also flying a Singapore flag, that was smuggling one tonne of crystal methamphetamine in 41 rice sacks off the waters of Batam island.
The smugglers, using the boat MV Sunrise Glory, was first spotted by Indonesian navy patrol KRI Sigurot 864 on Wednesday (Feb 7) afternoon as it entered Indonesian waters along the Singapore Strait.
The Sunrise Glory was stopped and boarded by navy personnel for inspection in the Phillip Channel near islands off Batam.
While the boat was flying a Singapore flag at the time, its crew were able to produce only photo-copied registration documents purportedly from Indonesia and there were also signs that it had used the name Sun De Man 66.
A Taiwanese flag was also discovered on board, and the crew of four Taiwanese are now being held and investigated for operating the boat under various false flags for illegal fishing or drug smuggling.
Indonesian custom officers, with help from sniffer dogs, later found the drugs on board the fishing boat during further examination.