Customs officers at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport have foiled an attempt to smuggle one tonne of African ivory pieces worth more than RM10mil.
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KLIA Customs director Datuk Chik Omar Chik Lim said the ivory was seized during an operation conducted at the air cargo warehouse at the airport’s free zone following intelligence gathered on July 21.
During inspection, he said, suspicious images were detected when 23 air cargo parcels were scanned.
“Upon checking the contents of the packages, we discovered 1,001kg of ivory pieces with an estimated value of RM10.01mil,” he said at a press conference at the KLIA Customs Complex here yesterday.
According to Chik Omar, the pieces arrived via Turkish Airlines from the Kinshasa International Airport, Congo, which made a transit at Istanbul Ataturk Airport before landing at KLIA.
According to preliminary investigations, the ivory was declared as baked clay and wooden samples.
The importers were located in Selangor and Johor.
“Upon checking the air consignment notes, we found the addresses to be fictitious,” he said.
Chik Omar said that so far, no arrests had been made and investigations were still ongoing.
Upon conviction, 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.
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He said the ivory pieces were believed to be in transit at KLIA before heading for China, Thailand and Vietnam as ivory carvings were popular in these countries and could fetch RM500,000 per piece.