Nine smuggling boats from Labuan caught
There was no escape for a convoy of nine boats laden with contraband goods from duty-free Labuan when they were trapped in a narrow river tributary near Menumbok in hinterland Sabah on Sunday night.
Three Marine Police Strike Force Unit personnel in a decoy village boat tailed the convoy up the Menanap River, a small tributary that flows into the main Klias River, while other Police boats blocked the river mouth around 9pm.
The boats with their smuggled cargo of beer, spirits, wine and cigarettes destined for the Chinese New Year market in Sabah, were heading for the drop-off point when the last boat in the convoy was intercepted.
Two local men, aged 18 and 20, were caught and held at the Menumbok Police lockup, some three kilometres down river, to assist Police in their investigations.
“The rest of the crew in the other boats escaped into the darkness of the surrounding mangrove swamp on foot when they realized there was no escape. The river was not wide enough for them to make a u-turn to sneak away,” said ASP Rahni Abdul Ladis who heads the Labuan Marine Police.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdul Manaf Othman yesterday told reporters at the Menumbok jetty, where the cargo from the boats were being unloaded, that a detailed count of all the items is not completed yet but RM2 million would be a rough estimate of the value of the seized goods, boats and their high- powered outboard engines.
“We launched Operations Barracuda to focus on coastal areas in anticipation of an increase in smuggling activities prior to the Chinese New Year.
“Two vessels, six officers and 20 men are involved in the two-week operation, he disclosed.
“This is our biggest case so far this year,” he added.