GEORGE TOWN: Marine police here crippled a syabu trafficking syndicate with the arrest of five people, including the group's two masterminds from Indonesia and Malaysia.
In the two-day operation last week, police also seized 263.7kg of syabu worth RM9.5 million.
Also seized were four vehicles worth RM104,000, cash totalling RM30,950 and jewellery worth RM52,000, bringing the total amount of seizure to RM9.7 million.
State police chief Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan, said in a 6.30pm operation on Wednesday, police detained two Indonesian men, aged 29 and 33, in a fibre boat in waters off Teluk Tempoyak.
He said both men from Acheh failed to produce any identification papers and were nabbed before being surrendered to the Penang marine police intelligence unit for further investigation.
He added that interrogations on the duo led investigators to an unnumbered fisherman's hut and illegal jetty on the banks of Sungai Keluang in Bayan Lepas near here.
Sahabudin said, about 4am the following day, a team of Region One marine police stormed the hut and detained a 55-year-old unemployed local man.
Further checks led investigators to a fibre boat behind the hut, tied to the illegal jetty. There, they found 130 gold-coloured packets, believed to be syabu.
"The team then checked a Mazda car parked outside the hut and found another 115 similar packets, also believed to be syabu. The drugs were hidden in a specially modified space between the back of the car and the boot. Altogether, investigators found 245 packets.
"Further interrogation on the three suspects, led to the arrest of another local 58-year-old man in Sungai Ara, Bayan Lepas, a fisherman and a local 57-year-old man, the owner of a boat repair workshop in Juru.
"Based on our probe, the older Indonesian suspect and the fisherman are the masterminds each in Indonesia and Malaysia," Sahabudin told newsmen at the state police headquarters here today.
He said police believe the drugs were brought in from Thailand and on transit in Penang before being smuggled out to Indonesia.
"We have reason to believe that the drug transactions were conducted at sea. With stricter enforcement in place due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), we believe drug trafficking syndicates have moved to sea now for their activities," he added.
Sahabudin said investigations showed the syndicate had been active since December.
Two of the local men arrested, including the unemployed and the mastermind, tested positive for methamphetamine.
The duo, along with the workshop owners, had previous records.
They have been remanded under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code for further investigations under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drug Act 1952 for trafficking, a capital offence.
Sahabudin said if the drugs had found its way into the market, it would have been used by some 1.32 million addicts.