Six Indonesians and three Malaysians have denied being members of a gang alleged to have stockpiled illicit cigarettes worth more than 18 million ringgit (US$4.3 million) that were seized during a police raid.

A magistrates court in Mersing was told Wednesday that Johor police found 12.05 million cigarettes worth an estimated 8.076 million ringgit (US$1.9 million) at a factory in Felda Tenggaroh 2 on October 10.

Three days later they recovered another 16.06 million cigarettes worth  10.728 million ringgit (US$2.6 million) in a building on Jalan Melor 4 in Felda Tenggaroh 4, which is also in Mersing. Both buildings were said to be owned by Mohd Razali Mohd Yunus, 43, who was suspected of being  the leader of a ring smuggling cigarettes, Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia) said.

He pleaded not guilty to two charges of storing illicit cigarettes. The other suspects denied having imported or exported the cigarettes.

The case was listed for mention January 23, with the alleged ringleader allowed 100,000 ringgit (US$24,000) bail with two sureties, and the other two Malaysians bailed for 70,000 ringgit (US$16,800) with two sureties. The six Indonesians were detained under the Immigration Act.