KOTA KINABALU: A syndicate believed to be producing and selling fake entry permits, among others, for the past year has been busted.
Sabah Immigration director Datuk Sitti Saleha Habib Yussof said six people including a mastermind were nabbed in two operations in Sembulan near here recently.
She said these raids, dubbed Ops Serkap, were made after a month of stakeouts and investigations by Immigration officials and other security agencies.
“In the first raid on an unnumbered house in Kampung Sembulan Lama on Wednesday (March 29), we inspected three men and two women aged between 24 and 52, and found fake entry documents in their possession,” she said in a press conference on Friday (March 31).
Sitti said 28 entry permits, 16 instructional notes also believed to be fake, 15 payment receipts, RM2,288 cash, two laptops, four smartphones, 28 fake IMM13 documents, two stamp pads, dubious MyKad receipts and a fake identification registration paper were confiscated.
This led to a second crackdown on Thursday (March 30), where a 59-year-old woman, believed to be one of the main masterminds, was detained at Riverside Sembulan around 1pm.
She said a total of 18 payment receipts for a MyKad believed to be fake and RM744 cash was found on the suspect.
Another 15 identity card applications complete with pictures and fingerprints and two MyKad applications were subsequently found in a house in Kuala Menggatal near here after her arrest, said Sitti.
She said another suspect, believed to be also one of the masterminds in the case, is still on the run and suspected to be in Peninsular Malaysia.
“We are working with our counterparts in the peninsula to investigate and track down the suspect,” she said.
Sitti said the Immigration Department believes that this syndicate has been offering entry permits to migrants, charging them around RM100 to RM800 per document.
“We believe they have been active since April 2022 and might have collected between RM60,000 and RM100,000 from this illicit business,” she said.
Asked if they believe there is a bigger team involved in this syndicate’s activities, she said they were not ruling out any possibilities, including the presence of more than one group operating illegally on immigration-related offences.
On a separate case involving Immigration officials who were nabbed under suspicion of their involvement in the smuggling of undocumented Filipinos into Malaysia in Tawau recently, Sitti said this is still under police investigation and she hoped the probe will be carried out justly.
It was reported on March 26 that six Immigration officials were among 10 people nabbed in this case handled by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
On March 30, the suspects were released on bail but were rearrested by police under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
Sitti said it was regrettable that any Immigration official could be involved in such crimes but assured the public that the overall Immigration Department was operated by dedicated and responsible individuals.
“We’ll let the police handle this case for now. We’ll also only know full details of their involvement (if any) after police have completed their probes,” she said.