DENGKIL: A group of suspected poachers are believed to have led a luxurious life before authorities arrested them in Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah (OBK), an integrated operation to weed out wildlife smugglers.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Comm Datuk Mazlan Mansor said the four men, in their 40s, were arrested in a raid on Nov 19 in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, and Sungai Petani, Kedah, where personnel from the anti-money laundering division and the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) seized animal parts, including elephant tusks and deer antlers, animal skin worth about RM240,000 and five luxury cars.
The anti-money laundering division also froze 13 accounts believed to belong to the suspects and their family members, which are said to contain about RM1.58mil.
“We believe the syndicate has been operating for about five or six years.
“Based on the grand scale of items seized, we can assume that they made a lot from this empire of theirs, ” he said.
Comm Mazlan said the four suspects are believed to have been tasked to hunt animals and move the animal parts to prospective buyers in Malaysia and Thailand.
“The arrests of these four will bring us closer to identifying the brains behind this syndicate, ” he said of the case that is being investigated under Section 4 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, as well as for hunting without a licence or permit under Section 60 and 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
OBK is an operation done in collaboration between Perhilitan and the police to protect Malaysia’s flora and fauna.
Since its launch in September, the authorities have looked into 21 cases and arrested 63 people – 15 of them Malaysians – for poaching wildlife and plants.