PUTRAJAYA: The Immigration Department has busted a human trafficking and smuggling syndicate in Sarawak with the arrest of five men, including the 40-year-old local mastermind known as ‘Dudley’.

The five men, including four Indian nationals aged between 20 and 40, were arrested in raids under the special Ops Dudley around Sarawak from Aug 19 to Aug 22.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh said the operations, carried out by the Intelligence and Special Operations Division of the Putrajaya Immigration Headquarters and Sarawak Immigration Department, also managed to rescue 12 Indian nationals who were victims of the syndicate.

He said the syndicate was believed to have been active since May last year when the country’s borders reopened after being closed for the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the syndicate’s modus operandi was to promise jobs on a ship to the victims, who are brought in to Malaysia via the Kuala Lumpur Internatinal Airport before being flown to Miri and Sibu.

“Based on information gathered, the victims had to pay around RM20,000 to RM25,000 each to the syndicate to arrange their entry into Malaysia,” he said.

Also seized in the raids were, among others, RM600 cash, 75 Indian passports, seven Indonesian passports, three Myanmar passports and several vehicles, including Toyota Land Cruiser, Honda City and Suzuki Vitara.

Ruslin said the syndicate mastermind had been remanded for seven days for further investigation while the foreign nationals have been detained at the Semuja Immigration Depot.

The case is being investigated under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM) 2007, he said, adding that all the victims have been placed at an Immigration safe house. -Bernama

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