(Posted 25th July 2022)
By Kalbana Perimbanayagam, New Straits Times
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PORT KLANG: The Selangor Customs Department seized RM80 million worth of wildlife carcasses, including 6,000kg of elephant tusks from Africa.
The seizure was carried out at North Port here on July 10, during a routine scanner check on containers arriving at the port.
Department director-general, Datuk Zazuli Johan, said the seizure, which included pangolin scales, rhinoceros horns and tiger fangs, among others, was the biggest in its history.
He said the last time the department scored such an enormous success was when it seized 500kg of elephant tusks worth RM2.4 million in 2012.
In their recent success, he said officers scanned three consignments from Africa, which were declared as timber, but one of them appeared suspicious.
“Upon further inspection inside the container, officers found the elephant tusks, rhino horns, pangolin scales, tiger fangs, animal horns and skulls, as well as other animal bones hidden behind stacked sawn timber.”
He said 6,000kg of elephant tusks worth RM8,000 per kg, 29kg of rhino horns worth RM288,000 per kg and tiger fangs worth RM10,000 per kg were seized.
“Pangolin scales weighing about 100kg, animal horns weighing an estimated 14kg and animal skull and bones weighing some 300kg were confiscated,” he said.
He added that the importation of such goods is forbidden under the Third Schedule of the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 (Act 686), unless the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has given a permit.
Zazuli said the success was also attributed to the Finance Ministry which had presented it with six new scanners to assist in the department’s daily operations.
“They were received in stages from November 2021. The department received the last machine this May. The machines have been helpful as we detected 106 cases using it. These cased amounted to an estimated RM928,729.08 unpaid duty tax in 2021. This year, we have uncovered 18 cases that are under investigation with goods worth RM3,107,000 and evasion of tax estimated at RM13,793,813,” he added, saying that the total stated excluded the latest wildlife carcasses seizure.
Speaking at a press conference at the North Port Customs headquarters, Zazuli said the shipment from Africa was not meant for Malaysia, but according to checks, it had a scheduled transit at Pasir Gudang, before being shipped to the destination country.
“We intercepted the containers at Port Klang before they could arrive in Johor,” he said.
“No arrests have been made in connection with the seizure. However, the shipping agent responsible for the shipment is under investigation,” he added.
He said the case was being investigated under Section 135 (1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for trying to smuggle illegal or duty not paid goods via Malaysian ports.