x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Malaysian crime syndicate exposed after 3-year probe

Twenty-four vehicles worth Dh163,000 were stowed in shipping containers en route to Jebel Ali from Malaysia in 2007.

DUBAI // An international crime syndicate that smuggled scores of stolen vehicles into the country has been uncovered following three-year investigation. The haul of 24 vehicles were stowed in shipping containers en route to Jebel Ali Port from Malaysia when investigators swooped in 2007. The Japanese-made SUVs and pick-ups, worth Dh163,000, have been held in Jebel Ali as international investigations, led by the Royal Malaysian Police, continued.

Dubai Customs said the vehicles - all right-hand drive 2003 models - were intended for sale in the UAE. However, Sayed Mohammed Hasrin, Malaysia's Consul-General in Dubai, said the cars were likely to have been re-exported. He said the bust was the first to take place in at least three years, after a joint operation involving Dubai and Malaysian authorities. Bakri Zinin, of Malaysian CID, said the vehicles were stolen in Malaysia and smuggled out to meet overseas demand. The syndicates would commonly target African and Middle East countries where the vehicles would be sold on.

Reports in the Malaysian press have revealed that one of the masterminds of the operation, identified only as a 42-year-old man, was arrested in 2007 in relation to the stolen vehicles. The Kuala Lumpur-based New Straits Times reported that three other suspects were being tracked by Malaysian police but are currently believed to be at large abroad. According to the report, three Toyota Fortuner car keys, a laptop computer, a thumb drive and a book containing records of vehicles sold were seized from the suspect.

Investigations revealed that he had travelled to Kenya, Dubai and Singapore, and had exported the stolen vehicles there. The cars are now being shipped back to Malaysia, sources said. @Email:amustafa@thenational.ae