BUTTERWORTH: Police have rescued 10 foreign women who are victims of human trafficking with the arrest of two local men in a raid on an apartment in Butterworth here last night.

North Seberang Perai district police chief ACP Noorzainy Mohd Noor said police apprehended the two men aged 34 and 41, at the apartment during an Ops Pintas raid at 8.55pm yesterday based on intelligence and surveillance conducted since a week ago.

“During the raid, the police also rescued 10 foreign women from Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, aged between 31 and 36, who are believed to be human trafficking victims.

“Preliminary investigations revealed all the women were forced into prostitution by the syndicate, which charged between RM150 and RM300 per session to their clients around the state. The syndicate is believed to have been in operation for around a year,” he said when contacted here today.

He added that investigations also indicated that the syndicate made hotels around Penang as transit points and prostitution centres but could not conduct their operations since the Movement Control Order (MCO) 3.0 began on June 1.

Noorzainy said the syndicate hid the victims in the apartment to avoid detection by authorities.

“But with the enforcement of the MCO on June 1, the syndicate’s movements were disrupted as all the hotels were closed following the total lockdown, which forced them to move to the apartment. They were believed to be still entertaining clients who wanted (sexual) services there,” he said.

Police also seized two mobile phones, a car, tissue boxes, condoms, lubricating jelly, and wet tissues during the raid.

Both men, he said, possessed prior criminal records, and one of them is wanted for a fraud case in Kuala Lumpur. Investigations revealed that they acted as the women’s caretakers and would deliver food to them.

“Further investigations are still ongoing and we are looking for the syndicate’s mastermind. The men have been remanded and the case is being investigated under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM) 2007,“ he added. — Bernama

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