ALOR SETAR: Police rescued 23 Cambodian nationals believed to be victims of human exploitation from an illegal ketum plantation in Kuala Nerang in the wee hours of Tuesday (Sept 4).
Kedah CID chief Senior Asst Comm Mior Faridalatrash Wahid said the police's Anti-Human Trafficking/Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) unit had conducted an inspection under "Op Pintas Naka" at two farm houses at Kampung Lamdin in Naka of Padang Terap District at 12.15am on Tuesday.
"We rescued 23 Cambodians, aged between five and 30, from the plantation and were found without any working permits or valid travel documents.
"They comprised 11 males, nine females and three children (two boys and one girl).
"A 46-year-old man was arrested to assist with investigation. He admitted to employing them to work at the plantation to plant and harvest ketum leaves," said SAC Mior in a press conference at IPD Padang Terap.
Police also seized 1,025kg of ketum leaves worth RM20,000 in 205 plastic parcels (each weighing 5kg) from three tents at the scene.
"Our investigation showed that the ketum plantation had been operating in the village for six months and the ketum leaves were to be sold to a neighbouring country," he added.
SAC Mior said police believed that similar activities were happening at other villages in other districts in the state.
"We will continue to monitor such activities and rescue the migrants from being exploited by their employers," he said.
The case will be investigated under Section 15 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act 2007 (Act 670) and Section 30(3) of the Poison Act 1952.