Customs officers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) had on July 21 foiled an attempt to smuggle one tonne of African ivory pieces worth more than RM10 million, said KLIA Customs director Datuk Chik Omar Chik Lim.
He said the ivory were seized during an operation conducted at the air cargo warehouse, KLIA free zone, following intelligence gathered.
During inspection, he said, suspicious images were detected when 23 air cargo parcels were scanned.
“On checking the contents of the packages we discovered 1,001 kg of ivory pieces with an estimated value of RM10.01 million,” he said in a press conference at KLIA Customs Complex here today.
According to Chik Omar, the ivory pieces arrived via Turkish Airlines from Kinshasa International Airport, Congo which made a transit at Istanbul Ataturk Airport before landing at KLIA.
According to preliminary investigations, he said, the ivory were declared as baked clay and wooden samples while the importers involved were located in Selangor and Johor.
“On checking the air consignment notes we found the addresses to be fictitious,” he said.
Chik Omar said so far no arrests had been made and investigations on the case were still ongoing.
If convicted, the offence under Section 135 (1)(d) of the Customs Act 1967, provides for a fine of between 10 to 20 times the value of the goods seized or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both, he added.
He said the ivory pieces were believed to be on transit at KLIA before heading for China, Thailand and Vietnam as ivory carvings were popular in these countries and could fetch RM500,000.
In the meantime, KLIA Customs also seized 35.15 kg of khat leaves worth RM17,575 and 530 grammes of methamphetamine worth RM42,400 last month.
On the methamphetamine seizure, Chik Omar said the packages had arrived at the KLIA Mail and Courier Centre from Lagos, Nigeria on July 13 and were seized on July 22 after attempts to contact the recipient failed.
Chik Omar said the four packets of khat leaves from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia were seized on July 14 and declared as tea leaves.