By Noraizura Ahmad
LANGKAWI, May 26 (Bernama) -- The Customs Operational Battle Force Response Assault (COBRA), the elite team of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM), made its first appearance at the 16th Edition of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA‘23).
COBRA field commanding officer Mohd Nizam Shuib said a total of 40 personnel were involved in the special forces segment in both land and sea demonstrations.
“This opportunity gives positive impacts to the team and shows the public that JKDM has an elite team that can be mobilised at any time,” he told Bernama.
Mohd Nizam, who is also the Customs senior assistant director 1, said he was proud of COBRA's first appearance at LIMA‘23, which was an international experience for the team.
COBRA was officially established on Nov 28, 2016, at Lembah Bidong Shooting Range in Setiu, Terengganu to handle high-profile and high-risk cases, especially those involving drug cases and cross-border smuggling activities.
Mohd Nizam said the idea to establish COBRA was mooted following the murder of former Customs deputy director-general Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim, who was shot dead on his way to his office in Putrajaya on April 26, 2013.
He also said that the trend of cross-border smuggling activities has changed today, therefore, the department needs a team that can be mobilised at any time and is capable of facing the challenge.
“In the past, when we talked about smuggling, it was about white-collar crime, but now it is about secret societies, gangsterism or terrorism that carry out these activities to find means to finance their illegal activities.
“The establishment of COBRA, an armed tactical force, is crucial to deal with the threats and risks that the department often faces,” he said.
He said the total number of elite team personnel is now more than 60 people divided into six zones, namely the central zone (Selangor, Perak, Kuala Lumpur), north (Perlis, Kedah, Penang), south (Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Johor), east (Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu), Sabah and Sarawak.
COBRA personnel received basic training with the General Operations Force (GOF) in Ulu Kinta, Perak, before being sent on advanced courses with other special forces in Malaysia to improve their knowledge and skills.
Since its inception, COBRA, together with the JKDM’s narcotics branch and Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) Narcotics Crime Investigation Department, has conducted several high-profile operations, particularly involving dangerous drug products.
These included arrests and seizures of cocaine and ketamine worth RM676 million in August 2019 and the seizure of 2.5 million Erimin 5 pills worth RM50 million in March 2017, both in Selangor.
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