KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia’s coastguard has made its largest-ever seizure of methamphetamine, a top official said on Sunday, seizing 2.12 tonnes of the drug disguised as tea in a shipment believed to have come from Myanmar.
Coastguard chief Zubil Mat Som said the drugs found on a boat in northern Penang state were worth around $26.2 million. A local suspected trafficker was arrested.
“It is the coastguard’s record-breaking seizure in its 15-year history,” he said.
From writing on the packaging, “it is highly possible that the crystal methamphetamine was smuggled out from Myanmar’s Golden Triangle”.
The intercepted shipment was likely destined for neighbouring countries where it would fetch a higher price than in Malaysia, he said.
In recent years, Malaysia had made a number of seizures of highly addictive crystal meth. The Southeast Asian country is also battling a major drug addiction problem.
Zubil said on December 9 a coastguard vessel had noticed a recreational boat moving suspiciously off Penang island in broad daylight.
A chase ensued after a lone 26-year-old man aboard refused to stop. He subsequently jumped off the vessel and was arrested, the coastguard said in a statement.
Malaysian law provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers.
After inspecting the boat, officers found 130 sacks containing 2.12 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine which was disguised as Chinese tea, it added.
Zubil said drug smugglers were changing tactics during the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the coastguard would work closely with the police to disrupt smugglers and dealers.