ALOR STAR: Two M-16s and three HKP9S pistols which were smuggled out of the Sungai Petani army camp by three ex-soldiers about a year agohave been recovered by police.
The weapons, one of which was found in the toilet of a fast food outlet, were recovered in Sungai Petani and Kuala Ketil between March 4 and Sunday.
Police also recovered five HK9PS bullets, 13 9mm bullets and six .22 bullets in an operation which lasted about four weeks.
Kedah police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Supian Amat said 14 men, including the three ex-soldiers, were arrested in Sungai Petani to help in investigations. Eleven of the men in their 20s and 30s were found to be involved.
Three of them, including one of the ex-soldiers, had since been charged in the Sungai Petani Sessions Court with arms possession. They face a maximum 14 years jail term and at least six strokes of the rotan if convicted.
DCP Mohd Supian said the weapons were smuggled out of the camp when the three ex-soldiers were still serving in the army in rank and file positions.
He said the suspects did not have any connection with the M-16 gang and were not anti-national elements.
Police believed they had busted an illegal arms possession syndicate with the arrest of the suspects, two of whom have previous criminal records for robbery.
The weapons have not been used so far based on our knowledge. The motive of the group is criminal activities with the possibility that the weapons were for hire, he told a press conference yesterday.
He said police believed they had rounded up all the members of the syndicate but added that there might be more firearms involved.
DCP Mohd Supian said the first seizure was that of an M-16 which was found dismantled in five parts in a gunny sack hidden in a room of a house in Kampung Teluk Wang Kecil in Sungai Pasir, Sungai Petani, on March 4.
A 31-year-old self-employed man who was arrested earlier on that day had led police to the house.
Following the success, we set up a special team and launched an operation codenamed Ops Tedung Api Pasir, he added.
He said one of the HKP9S pistol was found abandoned in a Sungai Petani fast food outlet toilet at 12.15am on March 7 following a public tip-off.
Two other pistols and 24 bullets were recovered on March 11. One of the pistols was found with five bullets in a house in Taman Angsana, Sungai Petani, while the other wasfound in a house in Kampung Bakar Bata.
The other 19 bullets were found hidden in the house of one of the suspects in Taman Aked.
DCP Mohd Supian said the second M-16 rifle was found in a sealed iron box at a bridge in Sungai Charok Beras, Kuala Ketil, on March 22.