JOHOR BARU: Cross-border human-trafficking attempts involving illegal immigrants from Indonesia have been thwarted with the arrest of 15 suspects, says Johor police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd.
The suspects, between the age of 23 and 65, are all Malaysians and were arrested during an operation dubbed Ops Pintas Selatan at several locations throughout Johor.
Comm Mohd Khalil said those arrested included transporters, skippers, informers as well as those who were in charge of providing places for the illegal immigrants to stay upon reaching the state.
“Instead of arresting illegal immigrants during the exodus back into state via the coastline, which typically takes place after the festive season, we took a different approach by arresting those involved in managing the illegal system.
“Our target is to arrest those involved in carrying out the activity as this would send a stern message to illegal immigrants not to land in Johor,” Comm Mohd Khalil said during a press conference at the Johor Baru police headquarters here yesterday.
He said the police had also conducted 24 roadblocks involving 700 vehicles during the operation from May 13 until June 17.
“Marine police were also deployed to monitor the coastline as well as the surrounding waters in the state during the operation.
“We are still investigating if all of those arrested were from the same syndicate. What we know now is that they know each other, and have been in contact prior to the arrests,” he said.
The arrests were made under Section 12 and Section 26C of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act.
On another matter, Comm Khalil said the police had started making preparations ahead of Visit Johor Year 2020.
“We had an operation from Feb 7 until June 15 to eradicate criminal activities, including drug abuse, snatch theft and social issues, to ensure the state is safe for visitors.
“We have managed to reduce the crime rate index for Johor by 7.71% during that period as compared to the corresponding period in 2018,” he said.