PASIR GUDANGI, Nov 29 — Johor police busted a criminal syndicate that specialises in distributing illicit drugs and smuggling contraband with the arrest of five men, including one with a “Datuk” title, after two raids starting on Monday.
Police seized and confiscated untaxed alcoholic beverages worth about RM10.15 million and illicit drugs worth about RM1.8 million during the raids at a factory premise in the Pasir Puteh Industrial Area here and several other areas in Johor Baru.
Johor police chief Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said the first raid by the police’s Simpang Renggam 5th Battalion General Operations Force (PGA) was carried out between 11am to 8pm.
“During the first raid, the police arrested three men, including a local, aged between 26 to 46. In the operation, the raiding team inspected 11 containers and found 7,910 boxes containing 189,840 cans of contraband alcoholic beverages worth RM5,538,977.
“The syndicate’s modus operandi involved bringing untaxed beverages to be stored in a container before being delivered according to orders in the Johor Baru city centre,” said Kamarul Zaman during a press conference held at the Seri Alam district police headquarters here today adding that the gang has been active since November last year.
The state’s top cop said from the first raid, police uncovered and raided a mini laboratory that was used to process methamphetamine and ecstasy-based drugs.
He said along with a number of illicit drugs, investigators from the Seri Alam Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) also seized equipment used for processing the prohibited substances.
“Following the series of raids from 7pm on Monday until 4pm yesterday, police launched two other raids in Johor Bahru, before arresting two men, aged 46 and 54, including one with the 'Datuk' title,” he said.
Kamarul Zaman said the 46-year-old “Datuk” suspect is a businessman and is believed to be the mastermind behind the two syndicates involved.
He said that the syndicate’s modus operandi involving the drug trafficking activities was to turn part of the container cabin into a processing and storage place for the drugs before it was distributed to the local market.
“This syndicate’s drug distribution activity has been actively operating since June this year.
“During the raids, investigators also seized a barrel containing 22.84 kilogrammes (kg) of ecstasy powder worth RM1,676,823; 2,320 ecstasy pills weighing 696 grammes worth RM50,982 and 10 barrels and three bottles containing 182.90 litres of chemical liquid worth RM70,416,” he said, adding that the total value of the seized items was at RM1,798,221.
Johor police chief Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat with the seized contraband beverages in Pasir Gudang November 29, 2023. ― Picture by Ben Tan
In addition, Kamarul Zaman said that police also seized drug processing equipment in addition to confiscating 10 vehicles worth RM2,587,000; various jewelry worth RM219,048 and cash of various currencies worth RM235,397.
He said the total seizure amounted to RM3,041,445.
“The total value of the confiscated drugs during this operation is at RM4,839,666 and can feed 78,470 addicts, while the contraband alcohol without customs duties is at RM10,378,643,” he said.
Kamarul Zaman said five suspects were found negative for drugs during a urine screening test and all of them had no prior criminal records.
He said that all suspects were remanded for four days starting on Monday until Friday to assist investigators.
“The case is being investigated under Section 135(1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967, Section 6 (1)(2) Immigration Act 1959/63 (Amendment 2002), Section 39Bbof the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952 and Section 3(1) of the DDA (Special Preventive Measures) 1985,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kamarul Zaman said from January 1 to November 27, the Johor NCID had successfully arrested 15,483 people for various drug offences.
In the same period, he said police had succeeded in confiscating 4.74 tonnes of illicit drugs, while the total amount of drugs seized was worth RM33.80 million, with confiscation of assets amounting to RM13.29 million.