Thursday, July 7

MMEA thwarts trawlers in attempt to smuggle out goods

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KUCHING: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) foiled a bid to smuggle nearly three tonnes of controlled items including rice and sugar out of the country when they detained three Indonesia-bound fishing boats on Friday night.

FOILED: Abdul Razak (second right) and MMEA personnel with the controlled items stashed inside a hidden compartment on the ‘bot pancung’.

State operations director Maritime Captain Abdul Razak Lebai Omar said the boats, known as ‘bot pancung’, were stopped one nautical mile off the coast of Sematan in Lundu around 10pm during a routine patrol.

“Two MMEA speedboats, comprising 12 personnel and led by Warrant Officer I Azmi Ahmad, intercepted the boats which were on their way to the sea border of Tanjung Datu,” said Razak during a press conference at the Marine Department jetty in Muara Tebas yesterday.

During a search on one of the boats, MMEA officers uncovered two hidden compartments beneath the floor boards which contained 1,000kg of rice, 1,000kg of cooking oil, 500kg of sugar and 200kg of flour.

The remaining two boats were found to be carrying scrap metal and other recyclable material.

Razak also said five Indonesian men, aged between 20 and 40, were detained onboard two of the boats, while another man dived into the sea and escaped.

The suspects are being held for violating the Controlled Items Act 1961, and the case will be handed over to the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism for further investigation.