Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - The Tanjung Balai Karimun Naval Base in Riau Islands Province thwarted an attempt to smuggle 45 boxes of illegal cigarettes from Batam City to Tembilahan, Riau, on Saturday evening (March 9), a navy officer stated.

Members of a quick response team, aboard a sea rider boat, could chase and stop a speedboat carrying 45 boxes of illegal cigarettes in Karimun District's Danai waters, the naval base's commander, Lt. Col. Anro Casanova, remarked.

Conversing with local journalists here on Monday, he remarked that the illegal cigarettes comprised 15 boxes of OFO cigarettes, 15 boxes of Maxxis cigarettes, and 15 boxes of Mind Bold cigarettes.

According to Casanova, the smuggling attempt could be foiled owing to the Pelalawan naval ship's early detection of a suspicious speedboat cruising in the Rukan Island waters on Saturday evening, March 9, 2024.

"The Pelalawan naval ship then ordered a team of Sea Rider Mahesa personnel to chase the speedboat. They could finally secure the speedboat in the Danai waters," he remarked.

The speedboat skipper, only identified as KF, 42, was escorted to the naval base in Karimun District for an investigation, he revealed, adding that the suspect transported the cigarettes from Batam to Tembilahan.

The navy's success in foiling the smuggling operation could save Indonesia from suffering material losses of up to Rp400 million, he stated.

The smuggling operation was often carried out at night to avoid surveillance and arrest. Hence, all navy officers should continue to remain alert and be ready to fight crimes at sea, Casanova stressed.

The suspect and evidence of his crime had been handed over to the Karimun Customs and Excise Office for legal process, he added.

Tanjung Balai Karimun, the capital of Karimun District, Riau Islands Province, is located near the Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest sea lanes.

On February 29, 2024, the Dumai Naval Base in Riau Province foiled a robbery attempt by four pirates on MV African Halcyon while it was anchored in Malacca Strait's Dumai waters.

The pirates jumped into the sea and escaped on a speedboat as soon as the Dumai Naval Base's first fleet quick response team members arrived on the scene, according to a press statement released by the Indonesian Navy.

The Malacca Strait remains vulnerable to incidents of robbery and piracy as well as other forms of maritime crimes, including human trafficking and smuggling operations.

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Translator: Ogen, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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