Local man recruited as ‘transporter' in migrant smuggling syndicate

27 Feb 2024 08:30pm
A mobile phone which was confiscated from a suspect revealed several images of undocumented immigrants, along with receipts suspected to be related to the illegal activities. - Photo by MOHD HALIM ABDUL WAHID
A mobile phone which was confiscated from a suspect revealed several images of undocumented immigrants, along with receipts suspected to be related to the illegal activities. - Photo by MOHD HALIM ABDUL WAHID

KOTA BHARU - The discovery of suspicious activities involving a Perodua Aruz multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) has brought to light the alleged operations of a man suspected of being recruited as a transporter to smuggle in undocumented migrants.

The vehicle was spotted through the Kubang Kerian route to Pasir Puteh here before being intercepted at Jalan Bukit Marak/Jalan Peringat, Bachok on Wednesday.

In the Op Gelombang Khas operation which was participated by Sinar’s reporter, the man believed to be in his 40s had attempted to speed away in his vehicle after being instructed by the Immigration Department officers to stop.

The man’s efforts to run away proved futile as his MPV was blocked by the operation team.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh said the special operation was conducted from 11pm by the department’s Putrajaya Headquarters Intelligence and Special Operations Division, the Special Tactical Unit (PASTAK) and Kelantan Immigration Department.

He added that further inspections inside the vehicle found six undocumented migrants from Myanmar aged between 17 and 25, three of whom were men and three women.

"The vehicle is believed to be on its way from a shelter to a specific destination designated by the syndicate.

"The interrogation of the transporter led the team to a residence around Demit, Kota Bharu, believed to be a shelter," he said.

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Ruslin said they also apprehended another local man in his 40s suspected of being the housekeeper.

He added that a sum of RM4,500 and a mobile phone were seized in the operation.

He said initial investigations found that the syndicate had changed its modus operandi by avoiding public transportation terminals to evade detection by the authorities.

"Instead, they use shelters to temporarily place newly smuggled migrants before they were being moved by transporters to specific destinations around Seremban and Kuala Lumpur," he said.

He added that the transporters were believed to be paid between RM1,000 and RM1,200 for each movement depending on the distance they travelled.

"All the migrants and the local suspects detained have been taken to the Kelantan Immigration Department Enforcement Division Office for further action. They were detained under the Immigration Act 1959/63 and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) 2007," he said.

Ruslin said the operation was a result of the success of previous operations conducted since early February.


During the arrest, the man suspected of being the housekeeper at Demit refused to cooperate with the department’s operation team.

Based on Sinar’s observation at the location the raid was conducted which was at a two-storey terrace house, the suspect attempted to avoid answering questions regarding his mobile phone.

When asked about his mobile phone, the suspect claimed that the phone was downstairs.

"Please, the phone is not with me. It is downstairs. Really," the suspect said.

However, when the suspect was taken downstairs, he did not find the mobile phone.

However, through a thorough search, the phone was found hidden under his mattress on the second floor.

During the initial interrogation, the suspect also refused to admit any involvement with the detained undocumented migrants.

However, an examination on his mobile phone found evidence in the form of pictures and conversations regarding the activities of the migrants.

"This is not my house. I do not know," he said, claiming that the house was rented on a daily basis for RM200.


The suspected transporter who had been detained claimed to have only recently become involved in the activity.

"This is the second time, the day before I sent foreign nationals to Penang.

"The first trip to Penang, I received RM1,400 to transport six Myanmar nationals, the second trip covered several locations such as Seremban and Johor," he said.

He claimed that he was involved after receiving a call from an unknown individual to transport foreign nationals.

Ruslin emphasised that the Immigration Department does not compromise with any activities involving undocumented migrant syndicates and that the department highly valued information provided by the public until these syndicates were successfully dismantled.

"The department will take stern action against any parties involved in such activities," he said.


Meanwhile, Ruslin said a total of 86,571 undocumented migrants have been detained nationwide since last year.

He said the statistics as of Feb 15 also recorded 12,139 operations and 136,069 inspections.

"A total of 86,571 undocumented migrants were detained including those who were handed over to the Immigration Department.

"A total of 457 employers were also detained for protecting and employing undocumented migrants," he said.

Meanwhile, 44,109 migrants have been deported during this period.

Ruslin revealed that in January, a total of 220 hotspots for these migrants have been identified nationwide involving illegal settlements, business premises and areas often frequented by foreigners.

Ruslin stressed that continuous and relentless operations will be carried out with the cooperation of all agencies, including local authorities (PBT).

"Our target is not only undocumented migrants but also employers, the majority of whom are locals, who hire these migrants,” he said.