Chapter 1:
The Illicit Cigarette Boom

There is a syndicate in our backyard hiding in plain sight. They have managed to turn heads when they made news of controlling most of Malaysia’s tobacco black market. How much? About 60% of it.

It all started at the southernmost state in Peninsular Malaysia, Johor. A smuggling syndicate first used Johor as a base for trafficking goods such as tires and fruits to our neighbouring city-state, Singapore. In 2012, The Syndicate started to venture into illicit cigarette smuggling.

Right after the surge in cigarette excise in 2015 that significantly increased the price of legal cigarettes, the demand for cheap black market tobacco boomed overnight.

Almost instantly The Syndicate became a multimillionaire. Leveraging on the thoroughly organised and structured operations, The Syndicate began to merge the business of other smaller smuggling syndicates forming a consortium that controls 60% of the tobacco black market. But, just like a cunning gangster in the movies, The Syndicate was also careful to cover themselves through legal loopholes so as to not have any ties with these criminal activities.