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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cops go hunting but victims know nothing

KUALA LUMPUR - Their victims know them only as “boss” or by their initials and nicknames.

These masterminds behind the trafficking of illegals into the country – as forced labour, child beggars or sex workers – remain well concealed, but police are determined to expose their real identities and bring them to book.

And, the police warn, they will not hesitate to use crime prevention and anti-money laundering laws against them, including the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.

Bukit Aman CID Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Division principal assistant director ACP Maszely Minhad said it had been ordered to find the people behind the veil.

“We want to know who these people are – the masterminds, the operators, the bosses,” he told The Star.

“We have arrested managers, mama-san, caretakers and workers during our rescue operations but we are not getting information on who is behind it all.”

Of particular interest to the police, ACP Maszely said, were the transporters and recruiters who lured their victims with false promises before trafficking them from their home countries.

He warned that police would not hesitate to bring the full force of the law on these masterminds, even detaining them under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) should there be insufficient evidence.

“We will put them under detention and probably clap them in an electronic monitoring device,” he said, adding that this would restrict their movements and keep them from going back to their trade.

At the same time, ACP Maszely said police would use every available law to seize their assets and piece together the money trail.

“We must go all out against them. There is no point just targeting the workers,” he said.

ACP Maszely said police needed the cooperation of the rescued victims but sometimes, they only knew the traffickers by their nicknames.

“We don’t have further details. That’s why we are stuck. But we will never give up,” he stressed.

In the first six months of this year, the division has already opened 242 investigation papers and applied for 401 protection orders for rescued victims in all categories of trafficked persons.

Last year alone, there were 456 investigation papers and 676 protection orders.

The division also arrested 393 people, mostly locals, between January and June. Last year, it made 679 arrests.

The division’s success has earned Malaysia an upgrade to Tier 2 of the US Annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2017. The country was earlier on the Tier 2 watchlist.

ACP Maszely said in addition to sharing intelligence with police and the authorities in other countries, the division also advised their foreign counterparts to interview the victims once they returned home.

“Sometimes, we believe the victims are just not talking to us. Maybe they feel more at ease talking to their own officials.

“If they find any intelligence, the authorities there can always share it with us,” he said.

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