KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Customs Department busted an attempt to smuggle out over RM103 million worth of pangolin scales to China via the Sepanggar Port here, last month.
The scales were packed in 226 gunny sacks and were discovered inside two containers, weighing about 8,000 kg, waiting to be shipped out.
State customs director Datuk Dr Janathan Kandok said enforcement officers made the discovery on July 29.
“Those responsible in handling the items have declared it as being animal shells to deceive enforcement personnel.
“The scales are believed to be enroute to China. It is estimated to be worth USD3,000 (RM12,886) per kilogram on the black market,” he said at a press conference at Wisma Kastam, here, today.
Based on the gunny sack contents, Kandok said each bag was filled between 30 and 50 kilogrammes of pangolin scales.
Sabah customs believed the scales were sourced from 16,000 pangolins.
Following the seizure, Kandok stressed that the department had nabbed a 43-year-old local man, the owner of a company, to facilitate investigation.
“This is the biggest success by Sabah customs this year in thwarting an attempt to smuggle pangolin scales out of the state.
“The importation of pangolin scales is prohibited under the Custom Order (Prohibition on Import) 2017 except with import permit from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks,” he said.
He noted the pangolin scales are also included in import ban under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 (Act 686) except with a permit.
The case is being investigated under Section 135 (1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for importing or exporting any un-customed goods or any prohibited goods contrary to such prohibition whether such un-customed or prohibited goods are to be shipped, unshipped, delivered or not.