Luxury passenger boat used for ketum smuggling

KUALA PERLIS: An attempt to smuggle some three million tonnes of ketum leaves has turned into a crash on the high seas involving a luxury passenger boat.

Two local ketum leaf smugglers aboard the boat rammed a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) vessel in a bid to evade the security agency 5.8 nautical miles east west of Kurung Tegar beach here.

Kuala Perlis Marine Zone Manager, Marine Commander Mohd Hashim Mat Zain said the suspects maneuvered the boat dangerously before ramming it into the MMEA police boat at 6.50am.

“The MMEA team arrested the two men, aged 37 and 48, after the boat began to take on water due to severe damage to the bow from the impact.

“Our team found 300 black plastic wrappers and 13 white plastic wrappers of what are believed to be ketum leaves weighing 3.2 tonnes and worth RM576,000,” it was reported. quoted by Bernama here yesterday.

The suspects, he said, were trying to smuggle the ketum leaves when authorities launched a chase.

Mohd Hashim said MMEA also seized three outboard motors worth RM380,000 and a fiberglass boat worth RM180,000 during the incident.

He said it was the first case of smugglers using a high-powered luxury passenger boat to trick law enforcement authorities.

“From the investigation, we found that the boat was moored in a neighboring country and was only entering Malaysian waters to smuggle ketum leaves.

“This matter is being investigated under Section 30(3) of the Poisons Act 1952 for the misuse of ketum leaves for various purposes including import, sale and transformation,” he added.

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