Smuggling of frozen meat recurring in border states

Smugglers are using various techniques to bring in illegal meat into the country.

KUALA LUMPUR – Police today confirmed that frozen meat is being smuggled in several of the country’s state borders.

Without revealing more details, Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department director Datuk Seri Abd Rahim Jaafar said among the states facing this problem were Kelantan and Sarawak.

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The issue is not a new one, he said, adding that the police were alert and had made arrests.

“Yes, there is such activity going on. The smuggling of frozen meat is rampant in these border areas but we have made arrests and seizures,” he said.

A Customs agent was detained in Sarawak last month for falsely declaring RM1.031 million worth of frozen chicken parts which were imported into the state without a permit

Sarawak Customs Director Herman Shah Abdullah said the arrest was made after a Customs enforcement team from Kuching foiled an attempt to smuggle in 250,500 kilograms of frozen chicken parts at Bintulu Port.

He explained that the items, which were kept in six 40-foot containers, were found during ‘Ops Undikar’, carried out at 10.55am on Nov 11 in collaboration with the department’s Zone 6 intelligence centre and land operations branch.

“The team found 16,700 cartons of various frozen chicken parts in 15kg packages, which are estimated to worth RM1.031 million while the unpaid tax was worth RM412,000,” he was quoted as saying by a local news site.

“The items have been seized and brought to the Customs Enforcement Store in Bintulu. The Customs agent who declared the goods was also arrested to facilitate the investigation,” he said in a statement.

According to Herman, the Customs agent had on six sets of forms declaring that the six containers contained frozen mackerels, frozen squid and frozen tuna, which are non-dutiable goods and not subjected to import restrictions.

“This (false declaration) was done to trick the Customs officers, but foiled during the operation. Items such as frozen chicken wings, frozen chicken tails and frozen chicken leg quarters are subjected to Customs (Prohibition of Imports) Order 2017.

“The importer is suspected to be trying to evade the need to apply for an import permit, and wanting to avoid paying the duty import which was 40 per cent of the total value of goods,” he said.

Herman explained that import of chicken commodity is subjected to Details 1(1) Third Schedule, Part 1 of the Customs (Prohibition of Imports) Order 2017 whereby the importer needs a Import Permit issued by the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department.

In this case, he said the importer did not have a legitimate permit, and the goods were also not attached with a halal certificate issued by the Halal Certification Board approved by the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

He added the case is being investigated under Section 133(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for false declaration, which carries a maximum fine of RM500,000 or not more than 20 times the amount of unpaid duty (whichever amount is bigger) or a maximum jail term of seven years, or both, upon conviction.

Similarly in October, the 7th Battalion of the General Operations Force (PGA7) thwarted an attempt by two men to import frozen chicken using false documents into the country with the arrest of two men and seizure of RM38,700 worth of the consignment.

PGA7 commanding officer Supt Azhari Nusi said the consignment, which had passed through the Rantau Panjang Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex, was seized after the GOF patrol team spotted a suspicious lorry at Jalan Rantau Panjang-Pasir Mas at about 7.30pm.

He said the GOF patrol team followed the lorry until Jalan Lubok Jong Pasir Mas, when it was stopped, and following inspection, found it to be carrying 3,870kg of frozen chicken.

“However, following a check, the lorry registration number was not the same as that stated in the document,” he said when contacted here today.

He said the lorry driver and his attendant, aged 23 and 34, respectively were arrested and handed over to the Pasir Mas police for further action.