ESSZone: Community reminded not to collude with smugglers

Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman

TAWAU – The maritime community in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) has been reminded not to be in cahoots with smugglers using the waterways or land routes to bring in illegal immigrants and cigarettes into the state.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) chief, Datuk Ahmad Fuad Othman said stern action would be taken against those found involved in harbouring illegals or hiding contraband cigarettes.

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“The public should not allow these smugglers to take advantage of the situation and instead be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the security forces by relaying information on cross-border crimes,” he said in a statement.

Ahmad Fuad said security control along the ESSZone waters and land border areas continued to be tightened through aggressive patrolling including show of force in curbing the entry the illegals and smuggling of goods into Sabah.

He said the patrols and teamwork involving the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in the ‘Operasi Cegah Pati Daratan Selatan’, here, had foiled many attempts by illegals to sneak into the country as well as smuggling of goods.

“For example, 22,900 cartons of cigarettes worth RM288,032 were seized at Kampung Hidayat beach, Batu 4, Jalan Apas, here, Nov 15.

“The ATM radar detected a boat moving in a suspicious manner from Pulau Sebatik heading towards Kampung Hidayat at 7.35 pm, and the security team that rushed to the location found a mound of green plastic sheet, underneath which were contraband cigarettes while the boatman had escaped,” he added.

Ahmad Fuad said among the brands of cigarettes seized and brought to the Tawau police station were Primero, Djarum Black and Surya Menthol Slim, believed to be for the local market. The case is being investigated under Section 135 (d) of the Customs Act 1967.

— BERNAMA