GEORGE TOWN: Penang police seized 2.8 tonnes of ketum powder worth RM280,000 meant for the export market from a shophouse in Jalan Dato Keramat here yesterday.
State police chief Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab said the syndicate operating the makeshift factory had been in business for the past six years, with clients in the United States and Canada. He said there were a plethora of machines grinding the leaves to be packed into 1kg packs before it was shipped off.
“We have arrested a 33-year-old Bangladeshi worker during our swoop on the outlet at noon yesterday. He was the only one in the outlet at the time of the raid. “Based on consignment notes found, they have been using air mail to deliver their products to various countries, especially North America,” he said in a press conference here today.
The Bangladeshi man has been remanded until Mar 22 for investigation under Section 30 (3) of the Poisons Act 1952 for the manufacture and export of psychotropic substances. Ketum leaves boiled in water are consumed as a cheap alternative to satisfy drug addicts’ cravings. Ketum, or its original name ‘kratum’ is a plant of the Rubiaceae family, which is abundant in the northern states of the peninsula.