JOHOR BARU: Two individuals believed to be the masterminds of a human trafficking syndicate have been arrested in Pontian about 50km from here.
Johor Immigration director Baharuddin Tahir the suspects were detained on Thursday (Nov 9) at 11.45pm.
“They were apprehended in a house there used as a transit point for the illegal immigrants from Indonesia to leave the country using jalan tikus (backdoor routes)," he said in a statement.
Baharuddin said the Immigration Department together with the Pontian police district headquarters have been monitoring the activities at the house for two weeks.
He said the two suspects – an Indonesian female with a temporary resident status and an Indonesian male permanent resident - were acting as transporters to assist the illegal immigrants wanting to leave Malaysia.
“These illegal immigrants have been blacklisted by us from entering Malaysia," added Baharuddin.
He said the suspects would charge the victims between RM2,500 and RM3,500 to sneak out of the country from the west coast of Johor back to Indonesia.
Baharuddin said 16 Indonesian illegal immigrants – one woman and 15 men - were detained in an operation codenamed Ops Serkap and they would be deported to their home country.
He said the victims have committed offences under Section 6(1)(c), Section 15(1)(c) and Section 56(1)(1) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 in their attempts to leave the country using the uncharted routes.
He said the authorities also seized two private vehicles used to transport the illegal immigrants to the transit house while waiting to leave the country under Section 49A of the Immigration Act 1959/63.
Baharuddin said the two suspects are detained under Section 6(1)(c) and Section 56(1)(d) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.