JOHOR BAHRU: A total of 19 cold distribution companies were found to be involved in imported meat cartel activities in an operation conducted in six states simultaneously two days ago (April 9).

Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Datuk Huzir Mohamed said seven of the companies were in Johor, Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (four), Selangor (four), Perak (one), Penang (two) and Kedah (one).

He said the 19 companies were found to have conspired with a local company that was allowed to import frozen meat from Brazil legally.

“According to the importer’s permit, the company could only import 27 tons of meat for one permit issued. Investigations revealed that the company only used four of five importer’s permits issued for 2020.

"The importer, however, was found to have distributed more than 1,000 tonnes to 202 customers as proven by seized invoices. Investigations also revealed the annual profit of the 19 companies were between RM1 million to RM52 million,” he told reporters at the Johor contingent police headquarters here today.

During Op Kartel Daging, CID also arrested 36 individuals, 26 men and 10 women, aged between 28 and 67. Thirty four of them were company directors and two were company managers.

Besides importing from Brazil, the importer also received supplies from local companies, which would be repackaged before distribution to customers.

He said the company also prepared boxes with halal logo to repackage the meat to fulfill customer orders.

"We found that the company received many orders because it offered lower prices compared to other halal meat distributors, as well as three-month credit facilities compared to ‘Cash on Delivery’ practised by other companies,” he said, adding that these activities had caused concern and doubts over the halal status of meat in the market.

Huzir said this not only impacted Muslims but also all Malaysians as the cleanliness of the repackaged meat could not be determined and it had not been approved by the veterinary department.

He said the police would continue their investigations into the issue and expected more arrests to follow, adding that they were tracking down two men believed to be the masterminds behind the cartel.

On Dec 1 last year, a raid conducted by several enforcement agencies on a frozen warehouse in Senai near here exposed the activities of a cartel that was smuggling in meat from overseas and repackaging it with halal logos for sale throughout Malaysia.