Human traffickers nabbed, nine women rescued in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR) – A syndicate involved in human smuggling was smashed by the Sabah Immigration Department with the arrest of three suspects and the rescue of nine women in Semporna on the east coast.

State Immigration Director Datuk Dr Muhamad Sade Mohamad Amin said the suspects, two men and a woman, are believed to have lured the women with the promise of lucrative jobs in the Middle East.

“Each woman paid the syndicate up to MYR13,000 in service fees for lucrative job placements in the Middle East, especially Jordan and Dubai,” he said yesterday.

He said a team of 15 raided two unnumbered houses, one at SK Pekan Semporna and another in Kampong Terusan Hujung Batu on Bum Bum Island, over two days from 11pm on Thursday to Friday.

The team, led by a deputy assistant director from the Enforcement Unit’s Semporna Immigration Office, managed to rescue the women and arrested the suspects at the two houses.

Victims rescued during the operation. PHOTO: THE STAR

Muhamad Sade said investigations were being carried out under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM) 2007.

He said the three suspects, aged between 28 and 40 years, were being detained at the Papar Immigration Detention Depot for further investigation.

“They are being investigated for carrying out smuggling of migrants. If convicted they are liable to imprisonment not exceeding 15 years or a fine or both,” he said.

He added that the victims, aged between 20 and 45 years, were being housed at the Kota Kinabalu Women’s Shelter.

It is learnt that all the victims and the woman suspect are Philippine nationals.