JOHOR BARU: A human trafficking ring has been crippled with the arrest of 12 suspects, including one of the syndicate’s masterminds.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the syndicate head, a 44-year-old Indonesian man nicknamed Janggut for his distinctive beard, was arrested between 5.30pm on Dec 1 and 10.30am on Dec 2.
The suspect, along with the other six Indonesian men, three Indonesian women and two locals aged 22 to 50 years old, were arrested at three locations in Johor Baru and Kulai.
"Janggut was assisted by his two trusted right-hand men and they ran an organised operation that charged each foreigner RM1,300 to bring them into Malaysia by sea from Batam or Tanung Pinang in Indonesia, and RM1,500 to bring them back to Indonesia from Malaysia.
"Those arrested were three ground agents, three transporters, one transit home keeper and five migrants.
"We believe the syndicate members were also aided by other agents such as local community members in their illegal operations including scouting for foreigners and lookouts," he told a press conference here on Sunday (Dec 5).
He added that the migrants were usually placed at a transit home, which varied in location to avoid detection, for a period of time before continuing on their journey to their desired destination or to a bus station if they wanted to travel on their own.
The syndicate had been actively operating human smuggling activities near Sungai Tengah in Bandar Penawar, Kota Tinggi since April this year, added Comm Ayob Khan.
The case is being investigated under Section 26A of the Anti Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (Atipsom) Act 2007 and Section 5(2), Section 6(1)(c) and Section 55E(2) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.