SEPANG: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)'s Customs Department has seized 337kg of smuggled Pangolin scales from Sabah and Sarawak, worth RM4.4 million.
The Pangolin scales were to be air couriered to Hong Kong from the KLIA mail and courier centre.
Customs KLIA director Abdul Wahabi Abdullah said his team thwarted two separate attempts to smuggle out the Pangolin scales.
During the press conference, Customs KLIA also unveiled hordes of smuggled ciggerette packs from Vietnam, totalling 3.8 million sticks. The unpaid import duties were RM2.6 million.
The Pangolin scales were smuggled in two separate batches, dated Nov 16 and 17 respectively.
"The first case was on Nov 16 around 3.30pm. Our officers in the KLIA mail and courier centre seized five boxes of Pangolin scales, weighing 125.46kg. They are worth RM1.6 million," he said.
The boxes were labelled as kids' clothes.
The second case happened on the next day - with a bigger haul of 211.54kg, worth RM2.7 million.
Packed in eight boxes, the Pangolin scales were labelled as filter pack.
"All the consignments were handled by Pos Aviation. The sender is local. We have yet to ascertain if the sender is a company or individual. But the registered addresses are in Sabah and Sarawak," he added.
As the case is still currently under investigation, Abdul Wahabi has declined to reveal more details on the suspects. He, however, believed that the perpetrators are linked to a previous case handled by his team.
"There are two or three suspects involved in the smuggling ring. We are currently working with the Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) in investigating the matter," he said.
Perhilitan has yet to be ascertained if the Pangolins are local species.
Pangolin scales can fetch a price of between RM1,000 to RM1,500 per kg in the Malaysian market. They can fetch a higher price in China because of the big demand.
The Pangolin scales, believed to be the traditional remedy for malaria and cancer, are in demand in China and Vietnam.
Import of Pangolin scales requires a special permit from Perhilitan. Under Section 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967, those who are found guilty of illegally importing it into the country can be fined a maximum of 20 times the value of the smuggled items, or face three years imprisonment, or both.