Malaysian customs officers have made one of the biggest drug busts in history, seizing nearly three million “party” drug pills worth 58.28 million ringgit ($18.4 million), an official said Monday.
Senior customs official Matrang Suhaili said five people, including a woman and her Bangladeshi husband, had been arrested and face a possible death sentence on suspicion of drug trafficking.
Initial investigations revealed that the drugs were stored in a container which arrived at Port Klang, Malaysia’s largest and busiest port, in late June from India via Hong Kong.
Matrang said acting on intelligence, enforcement officers seized the container which had landed in the port west of the capital Kuala Lumpur and conducted a thorough check on its contents.
To avoid detection, the Erimin 5 pills were hidden in 20 boxes along with some goods including chewing tobacco, he said. The hypnotic drug is usually prescribed for severe insomnia.
Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty by hanging under Malaysia’s tough anti-drug laws. Anyone found in possession of at least 50 grams (two ounces) of methamphetamines is considered a trafficker.
Despite the harsh law, Iranian, Indian and African drug mules are routinely arrested at Malaysian airports because they are lured by the promise of instant wealth.
Matrang said since January to July 5, excluding the latest arrests and seizure, 86 suspects had been detained and drugs worth $40 million seized. Fifty-one traffickers are on death row.