Cops cripple three major ketum syndicates in northern region

ILI SHAZWANI


KANGAR: Police believe they have crippled three major ketum smuggling syndicates in the northern region with the detention of 18 people, including Thai nationals, in three separate raids in Perlis on Saturday.

The authorities seized almost one tonne of ketum leaves, 17kg of ketum juice and 290 bottles of cough medicine worth RM25,000.

The raids were conducted at Kampung Kolam, Kampung Kok Mak and Kampung Syed Abdan by Federal police, the Perlis Narcotics Investigation Department as well as the Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (Sting).

Federal Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) deputy director Deputy Commissioner Datuk Kang Chez Chiang said 990kg ketum leaves were found in 33 white sacks.

“Of the 18 suspects aged between 21 and 31, 14 are locals while four others are Thai nationals.

“Nine tested positive for drugs.

“The ketum leaves were about to be smuggled to a neighbouring country,” he told a press conference at the Perlis police headquarters here today.



"Apart from 990kg of ketum leaves found in 33 white sacks, we also seized 54 plastic of ketum juices wighing 17kg and 290 bottles of cough medicines worth RM25,000,"he said.


The suspects would be remanded until May 3 for further investigations under Poison Act 1952.

Meanwhile, since 2012 until last month, Kang said police have seized about 117 tonnes of ketum leaves and juices worth RM3.5 million.


He said statistics showed that there was an increasing trend in the number of ketum seizures each year.


"In 2012, only five tonnes of ketum leaves were seized and the number increased to 16 tonnes in 2014, 29 tonnes in 2015 and 44 tonnes in 2016.


"This year alone, 15 tonnes of ketum leaves have been seized including the latest bust on April 29,"


Kang said investigations revealed that majority of the ketum leaves were meant for Thailand market.


He said the high demand of the crops in the neighbouring country as well as the high price that could reach up to three times the local price were among the factors why many locals and Thai nationals were involved in the smuggling activities.


Commenting on the latest raid on April 29, Kang said a total of 18 men including four Thai nationals aged between 19 and 36 were arrested in three raids in Padang Besar.


"The raids were conducted from 2am to 5am at Kampung Kolam, Kampung Kok Mak and Kampung Syed Abdan by Bukit Aman and Perlis Narcotics Investigation Department as well as Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (Sting).


"Apart from 990kg of ketum leaves found in 33 white sacks, we also seized 54 plastic of ketum juices wighing 17kg and 290 bottles of cough medicines worth RM25,000,"he said.


The suspects would be remanded until May 3 for further investigations under Poison Act 1952.