GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police have seized 309kg of marijuana wrapped in packages that had landed in Penang by sea, with the drugs set to be distributed in Penang, Perak and the Klang Valley.
The mastermind of the drug syndicate was later nabbed in police operations.
The drugs - 313 slabs wrapped in 15 black plastic packages - has a market value of about RM772,500 (S$253,200).
The seizure was made at 9.15pm last Tuesday (Oct 27), when police intercepted a luxury multipurpose vehicle at the Juru toll plaza on mainland Penang, said federal narcotics Criminal Investigation Department deputy director Zainudin Ahmad.
"The driver, a male Thai national, was arrested. He is the owner of a tom yam restaurant here and has lived in Malaysia for the last five years," Deputy Commissioner of Police Zainudin told a news conference on Sunday (Oct 1) in Penang.
"Further investigations led to several other raids and the arrest of 11 individuals, including the mastermind, and the seizure of 495g of methamphetamine," he said.
Cash amounting to RM65,090 and 15 vehicles worth about RM1.5 million were seized during the raids.
DCP Zainudin said eight of the suspects had previous drug and criminal records, and four tested positive for methamphetamine and two positive for marijuana.
He added that the syndicate was believed to have been operating for some time and was only detected recently.
He said the syndicate used fibre or fishermen's boats to smuggle the drugs, allegedly from Satun, Thailand, to Penang or Kedah.
"Our investigation also found that it is harvesting season in Thailand now, and the syndicate is believed to have taken advantage of that to smuggle the processed drugs with rice to avoid being detected by the authorities, " he said.