Police busted a smuggling syndicate based in the district and seized cigarettes and vehicles worth around RM9 million from raids conducted in several locations statewide on Wednesday.

According to Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order director Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani, it was the biggest contraband seizure in Malaysia to date. The raids also saw 23 suspects arrested.

He said a total of 1,332 boxes of smuggled cigarettes of various brand, five lorries and 19 luxury vehicles, including Toyota Vellfires, were seized during the raids at a factory in Felda Tenggaroh 2, Mersing; a house in Taman Johor Jaya, Johor Bahru; and a factory in Nusajaya, Iskandar Puteri.

“We also found RM9,645 in cash and four Eramin 5 pills. The cigarettes are worth an estimated RM6 million, while the seized vehicles are estimated at RM3 million,” he said at the Mersing district police headquarters here today.

During the raid, police also detained seven local men and 16 Indonesian nationals aged between 24 and 46.

Acryl Sani said the syndicate, believed to have been run by a local mastermind, had been active for almost a year and had been using luxury cars to transport the contraband items to avoid suspicion.

“We believe they want to distribute it to small retailers in Johor and along the east coast,” he said.

Of the seven local suspects, three were still under remand from Oct 10 to Oct 14 to facilitate investigations under Section 117 of the Criminal Procedure Code, while the other four had been released on police bail.

Meanwhile, all 16 Indonesians have been remanded for investigations under the Immigration Act, Customs Act and Dangerous Drugs Act.