Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian customs authorities have seized drugs worth about 18.3 million U.S. dollars, the biggest single drugs smuggling case so far this year, officials said Monday.
Nearly 3 million pills of Erimin-5, which worth 58.28 million ringgit (18.3 million U.S. dollars), were found in a container by the custom officials last Friday, said Matrang Suhaili, deputy director-general of Malaysian customs.
According to Matrang, the container, originated from India, was supposed to be sent to Hong Kong. However, the container failed to be unloaded in Hong Kong and arrived in Port Klang, the largest port in Malaysia in June but left unclaimed for several days.
An application was filed later to transfer the cargo of the container to a local warehouse for repackaging, while the authority received a tip-off that the drug syndicate planned to change the document of the cargo so that the drugs can be smuggled to a third country.
Officials found 20 boxes of Erimin-5 in a through-out search of the container, apart from 200 gunny sacks of Chewing tobacco and 100 boxes of Indian joss stick, which had been declared.
The Erimin-5 is a powerful hypnotic drug used to treat patients with sleeping disorders, but it is illegal in Malaysia.
Port record showed that the container was handled by a local company, but preliminary investigation failed to locate the company at the address it had been registered.
Three local men in their late 30s were arrested for investigation. A couple in the Northern Penang state, whom police believed as the middle-men, was also arrested.
Matrang said this was one of the biggest single drugs smuggling attempts foiled the authority in a decade, but he denied that Malaysia had become a transit point for drug syndicates.
Excluding the latest case, Malaysia authority has seized drugs worth 126.4 million ringgit (39.6 million U.S dollars) in 67 cases so far this year, compared with a total of 92 cases and 184 million ringgit (57.7 million U.S. dollars) in 2011.
Most of the drugs that smuggled into Malaysia were for local consumption, Matrang said.
Malaysian customs is looking for greater power in areas such as information and search to curb the increase of drug smuggling, and Matrang expected amendments to the relating laws would be passed by the parliament by the end of the year. (Xinhua-ANI)