Immigration smashes human trafficking ring in Kota Baru

PETALING JAYA: An Immigration Department special operation has smashed a major Rohingya human trafficking ring with the arrests of six suspects between the ages of 24 and 35 years old in Kota Baru, Kelantan.

The suspects, mainly of Rohingya ethnic origin, were apprehended on Saturday (June 1) by the Special Tactical Team (Pastak) Intelligence and Special Operations of the Putrajaya Immigration headquarters with the help of the Kelantan Immigration Department.

Immigration director-general Datuk Ruslan Jusoh said the operation was carried out after three weeks of intelligence reports and public information.

"A plan was drawn out and the team sprang into action after sighting that a car that was driven by an individual in a suspicious manner. The suspect later drove off after seeing the Immigration team's car but was caught at the Kota Baru Express Bus terminal.

"Upon checking, the special operation apprehended two Rohingya persons, suspected to be the 'transporters' and 'assistants' with two other Rohingya persons believed to be being taken to Kuala Lumpur," said Ruslan in a statement on Monday (June 3).

"Another two Rohingya individuals were also arrested in a premises in Kota Baru, bringing the total number of those arrested to six," he said.

Ruslan said four of the Rohingya suspects had UNHCR cards while another two did not have any documents or valid passes to be in the country.

"The team seized two UNHCR documents believed to be fake, RM2,000 in cash and the vehicle used to transport illegal immigrants.

"The modus operandi of the syndicate is to smuggle the illegal immigrants into the country at the border, placing them in transit homes before transporting them to Kuala Lumpur in express buses accompanied by Rohingya individuals who are from Kuala Lumpur," he said.

Ruslan said these illegal immigrants were given false UNHCR documents to deceive the authorities, with the syndicate charging RM500 each for transport to Kuala Lumpur and RM100 for moving them around Kota Baru.

He said the syndicate had been in operation for a year.

"Three Rohingya persons are being held on suspicion of offences under Section 26A, Anti Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM) 2007.

Ruslan said another three were held for suspicion of offences under Section 6(3) of the Immigration Act and were held at the Immigration Depot in Tanah Merah, Kelantan.

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