Cops detain 371 involved in human trafficking syndicates

Police say some of the suspects have been previously involved in human trafficking but have not learned their lesson.

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 371 suspected members of several human trafficking syndicates were arrested by police in an operation from June 4 to June 7, according to Bukit Aman.

Criminal Investigations Department (CID) director Huzir Mohamed today said police would take tougher measures against them as some of the suspects had previously been involved in human trafficking and had not learned their lesson.

“We find that the law that was used was not effective enough. This is a lucrative business where they tend to get involved again, despite being punished,” he said at a press conference here.

The suspects are being detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), which does not allow bail, and will be probed under Section 130V(1) of the Penal Code for being members of organised crime groups.

Huzir said the suspects comprised Malaysians, Indonesians, Filipinos, Bangladeshis and Myanmars, who were involved in syndicates in Penang, Perak, Selangor and Johor.

The individuals detained comprised those involved in the syndicate’s smuggling network, including boat skippers, transporters, smuggling agents and those in charge of preparing temporary housing for smuggled migrants.

Four investigation papers (IPs), involving 138 suspects, have been opened under “organised crime”, while five other IPs have been opened for “smuggling of migrants” (SOM), involving 285 syndicate members.

Bukit Aman is also considering probing the syndicates under the Anti-Money Laundering Act in order to identify the properties and earnings of the members of the group.

Huzir said this was the third phase in the police’s ongoing plan to eradicate human trafficking in Malaysia, with the first stage conducted before the movement control order (MCO) and the second from March 18 to June 3.

The first phase saw 52 suspects detained and the second phase, taking place during the MCO and conditional MCO, saw 124 suspects detained.

He said police were now moving into the fourth phase of the operation —identifying enforcement officers who were part of the human trafficking syndicates.

He said efforts under the third phase were strengthened over worries that some migrant workers who had left the country when the MCO first came into effect would be looking to come back in after Aidilfitri.

“This operation is in line with the directive given by the prime minister, who has instructed police and other enforcement agencies to tighten the country’s border controls to prevent the smuggling of migrants who might bring in the Covid-19 virus.

”We also note the health director-general’s statements that one of the criteria for the MCO to end is for our borders to be tightened to prevent any more imported cases,” he said.

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