GEORGE TOWN: Twenty-seven illegal Bangladeshi immigrants have been freed from their captors in a police operation in Butterworth.
The captives were weak and looked sickly as they were locked up in two separate premises and fed only roti canai and water, Penang police chief Comm Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab told a press conference on Wednesday, reports Malaysia’s The Star Online.
He said the first raid at 11am on Tuesday at an industrial area Taman Desa Murni saw the rescue of 17 illegal immigrants, and led police to the plight of another 10 foreigners in Jalan Bagan Lalang.
A group of foreigners paid RM15,000 each to work in Malaysia but all are jobless and starving.
They arrived in the country through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Feb 2 and their agent took them to Shah Alam but the group was rejected by the factory because of immigration issues.
They were then transported to Johor Baru where they were again rejected.
On Monday they arrived in Penang and police were tipped off.
All of them, together with three locals believed to members of a human trafficking syndicate, are now in detention.
Penang police chief Comm Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab said 17 of the foreigners were found when police stormed a two-storey industrial building in Taman Desa Murni.
“They were very weak as they were only fed with water and roti canai. The cement floor was their bed.
“After the Malaysian suspects were questioned, we found another 10 Bangladeshis in a workshop in Bagan Lalang, Butterworth, who we believe were sold to a factory,” he said.
“All 27 of them do not have work permits and they only had photostated copies of their passport.
“All were men aged between 20 and 40.
“We staked out the building in Taman Desa Murni after receiving the tip off and at 11am on Tuesday, we raided it,” Comm Abdul Ghafar told a press conference.
The three locals, aged between 30 and 60, were remanded yesterday for 28 days to facilitate investigations.
“We are now looking for a fourth suspect to assist in investigations,” he said.
The case has been classified under Section 26(H)of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act for concealing or harbouring smuggled migrants and migrant smugglers and Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63.