KUALA PERLIS, Jan 17 — The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Kuala Perlis Maritime Zone has foiled an attempt to smuggle 2.3 tonnes of ketum leaves and arrested two men suspected of being “transporters” or ketum leaf mules.

Ketum leaf mules refer to individuals who are involved willingly or tricked into carrying ketum leaves near the country’s territorial waters before the contraband is taken by a group of smugglers to a neighbouring country.

Kedah and Perlis Maritime director First Admiral Mohd Zawawi Abdullah said a special operations team detained a fibre boat without a registration number on Saturday (Jan 15) at a position 1.5 nautical miles west of Sungai Padang beach at about 7.55 am.

“On realising the presence of the MMEA, the suspects, aged 25 to 40, changed direction before jumping into the sea and heading for the shores, where they were detained,” he told reporters here today.

He said the MMEA found 230 black plastic packages believed to contain ketum leaves with an estimated worth of RM414,000 in the storage compartment of the boat.

Further examination led to the discovery of a black bag containing two small white plastic packets suspected to contain 100 ‘’pil kuda” with an estimated worth of RM2,500.

“There were two small white plastic packets suspected to contain syabu weighing 1.72 grammes (gm) estimated to be worth RM688 and three small white plastic packets suspected to contain heroin weighing 1.47 gm estimated to be worth RM117.60 on the boat’s rudder,” he said.

Mohd Zawawi did not rule out the possibility that the smuggling was masterminded by a local syndicate that used the services of “transporters” to take the ketum leaves to neighbouring countries.

He said the total value of the seizures including the ketum leaves, drugs, fibre boats and outboard motors was estimated at RM537,305, the largest so far this year. — Bernama