KANGAR – Police have seized a total of 117 tonnes of ketum leaves worth over RM3.5 million and arrested 16,523 individuals, including foreigners, for various ketum-related offences between 2012 and end of last month.
Federal Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) deputy director (Intelligence/Operation) DCP Datuk Kang Cehz Chiang said what was worrying was the fact that the number had been rising steeply each year, especially in the northern states.
“Throughout 2012, police only seized five tonnes of ketum leaves, but the number increased to eight tonnes in 2013, 16 tonnes in 2014, 29 tonnes in 2015 and 44 tonnes in 2016.
“In the first four months this year, 15 tonnes of ketum leaves were seized, with the latest seizure of almost one tonne made on April 29,” he told a press conference at the Perlis Police Contingent headquarters here today.
Kang said investigations revealed that most of the unprocessed ketum leaves were meant to be smuggled to Thailand as the demand for the leaves were higher over there.
He said the price of ketum leaves in Malaysia was only RM30 per kg, while in Thailand, the price could go up three-fold.
Relating the seizure on April 29, Kang said the operation from 2 am to 5 am around Padang Besar here, was mounted with the cooperation from the Bukit Aman NCID, Special Tactical Intelligence Narcotics Group (STING) and Perlis NCID.
“A total of 33 gunny sacks containing 990 kg of ketum leaves, as well as 17kg of ketum juice in 54 small packs and 290 bottles of cough syrup worth RM25,000 were seized during the operation.
“Eighteen men, including four Thai nationals, aged between 19 and 36, were arrested during the operation and had been remanded until tomorrow to facilitate further investigations under the Poisons Act 1952,” he said.
Kang did not dismiss the possibility that smugglers of ketum leaves would be more aggressive in their activities as the police had also intensified their intelligence operations.
“At present, the smuggling activities were being mounted in groups and did not involve an armed and large-scale organised syndicate, but police will be in full state of preparedness to combat the crime and to face any possibility,” he added. – BERNAMA