Monday, April 02, 2007

MORE PICS - RM1.5 Million VIDEO DISCS Seized in Raid on VCD/DVD Distribution Centers in Damansara Uptown; BIGGEST Seizure; Dogs used, Sniff out Discs

ABOVE: The raided centres are located in one of the shops along this road in Damansara Uptown and BELOW - the dog unit made its entrance from the back lane. Is it Lucky or Flo? (see article below)

The Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs Ministry on Sunday crippled a VCD/DVD distribution Ring in Damansara Uptown, Selangor.

ABOVE: The smart dogs were trained with fresh "new VCD/DVD Disc" with "plastic smell" and when set free went through the cardboard walls (BELOW) to expose the discs.

Enforcement officers have described the biggest crackdown in the Petaling Jaya district so far this year.

ABOVE: The exposed hole revealed the hidden discs (BELOW)

Some 150,000 copies off the VCDs and DVDs were hauled up in the operation in two centers on Sunday in Damansara Uptown.

The ministry’s dog unit also assisted in the raid. They were used to sniff the hidden location of the discs –confiscated.

ABOVE & BELOW: a man & a woman were caught "red handed" handling the discs in addition the woman was caught wearing a "red" Shirt but too shy to show her face and smoking "Malborough" cigs
In the 3.30pm raid, a man and a woman were detained in the crackdown. Both suspects were caught red handed. Initial investigations reveal the stores have been responsible for distribution in the Klang Valley.

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ABOVE & BELOW: Stack after stack and shelve after shelve, they were empty - literary the ministry "clear their stock" as it was "free sale" - no need to pay

It is believe the syndicate has been in operation for 3 years. The duo will be investigated under the Copyright act 1987. Both face a maximum fine of RM20,000 per copy or 5 years in jail upon conviction

ABOVE: Disc by disc they were taken down from the shelves and scrutinize before passing them out to the assistant (BELOW) for relay to the ready truck outside. Your guess is as good as anyone, these guys and gals will have ample discs to keep them busy for months watching. No one would have notice a missing few hundreds from the thousands taken away with proper records.

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Dogs, intelligence bring pirates to their knees

Lucky and Flo have become an enforcement unit in themselves and they have optical disc pirates on the run. LEE SHI-IAN (NST, Apr 02 07) talks to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry deputy director-general (enforcement) Iskandar Halim Sulaiman (ABOVE) about the Labradors and the fight against piracy. Iskandar says his department is doing a good job in fighting piracy.

Q: The two black Labradors, Lucky and Flo, have made quite an impact. Your thoughts on this?
A: I was invited to view a demonstration of Lucky and Flo’s capabilities in Dubai and I was impressed. I suggested the dogs be brought here for a working trip and the ministry agreed. The successful Johor raid was due to intelligence gathering and the dogs’ remarkable sniffing abilities. On Saturday the dogs were successful again, uncovering 150,000 pirated DVDs stored in a hidden room. Our officers had raided that premises several times but failed to discover anything.

Q: Any plans for the ministry to establish its own canine unit?
A: The performance of Lucky and Flo is certainly very impressive, but it is too early to say whether or not we will establish our own canine unit because of the costs involved. Not to mention where the dogs will be housed and other details. But it is something worth exploring.

Q: On a scale of 1 to 5, how successful would you say your department has been in the never-ending battle against optical disc pirates?
A: I would give us a four out of five. We have conducted numerous raids against optical disc pirates from the supply line down to the runners who sell the discs. Millions of pirated optical discs have been seized and the equipment used to the manufacture the discs has been confiscated.
Apart from the raids, intelligence units have been gathering information on illegal plants producing pirated DVDs as well as location of stores and warehouses where the discs are kept before distribution. The recent seizure of a million pirated DVDs worth RM10 million in Johor is one example. We have also established a legal unit to compile cases against those we raid so that there is sufficient evidence to charge them.

Q: What are the latest gimmicks used by optical disc pirates?
A: Well, they are certainly extending the friendly and welcoming image of Malaysia. They are now offering free delivery to hotels for tourists who buy 10 or more DVDs. According to our intelligence, the pirates approach tourists in shopping malls. They don’t actually have the optical discs on them. They offer various titles. Once the tourist has made a selection, the runners take down which hotel they are staying at and their room number. A delivery time is agreed and the runner goes off to get the titles. The customer pays on delivery.
In January, we discovered 850 pirated DVDs hidden in cylindrical packages that went through the scanner looking like PVC pipes. But on closer inspection it was discovered they contained pirated products. The syndicates also rent storage space and build hidden compartments or storerooms to hide their pirated optical discs until it’s time to distribute.

Q: Have you received any threats against yourself or your family?
A: In this line of work it’s normal to receive anonymous phone calls and threats. But most of the calls I receive are purported syndicate members and runners trying to justify themselves, claiming that they also have to make a living. They ask the ministry to go easy on the raids and not to take harsh action against them.


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