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PORT KLANG: The Royal Malaysian Customs Department has dealt a crippling blow to what is believed to be an Indian drug cartel when it thwarted an attempt to smuggle a consignment of Eramine 5 pills worth about RM58.28 million into the country.
Customs enforcement officers seized the 2.914 million pills -- believed to be the biggest haul in the country this year -- from a container in West Port here on Friday.
Three shipping agents here, and a Bangladeshi and his Malaysian wife in Penang have been detained to facilitate investigations.
The department's deputy director-general (enforcement and compliance) Datuk Matrang Suhaili said preliminary investigations revealed the drugs were enroute to Hong Kong from India.
However, when the Indian drug kingpins got wind that Hong Kong Customs were informed of the consignment, they switched their plans and instead, docked the drugs in a container at West Port on June 23.
"Since its arrival, local customs enforcement officers monitored the container (as part of the investigations).
"On Friday, we examined the container and found 20 boxes, each containing 31 black plastic packets containing the pills, worth a total of RM58.28 million," Matrang told reporters at Wisma Kastam in West Port here today.
He said in a follow-up operation, three shipping agents in their 30s, were arrested in Port Klang. Subsequently, a 41-year-old Bangladeshi and his 31-year-old wife were nabbed in Penang.
"Initial investigations revealed the shipping agents were directed by the couple to transfer the container to the godown at West Port."
Matrang said the five suspects were investigated under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.
In a separate case, the customs department seized 60 sacks containing 665,200 smuggled kretek cigarettes worth RM91,728 on July 4, in the waters off Tanjung Gabang, Selangor.
In the incident about 5pm, Matrang said, the three cigarettes smugglers abandoned their fibreglass boat and escaped in another boat.