JOHOR BARU, July 3 — A high-ranking Johor Immigration Department officer here has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in migrant smuggling activities.
It was learnt that the 50-year-old woman is an assistant director in the Immigration Department and was arrested two days ago.
Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the arrest was made based on information obtained after questioning three other immigration officers who were taken in on June 23.
He said the woman is the latest suspect in a people smuggling network.
“The modus operandi used by the group was by using fake immigration stamps to enable Indonesians with expires social visit passes to be smuggled out of the country during the movement control order period,” Ayob said in a press conference at the Johor police contingent headquarters here today.
He said the woman will be investigated under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) 2007 through investigation procedures under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) 2012.
To date, police have arrested 23 enforcement personnel, including from the police force immigration and armed forces. They are suspected of involvement in migrant smuggling activities along the eastern coast of Johor.
Ayob, who has been at the forefront of combatting the state’s migrant smuggling menace, said the police will continue to take action irrespective of rank or position.
“Let this be a warning to those officers who think they are above the law,” he said.
The police have stepped up anti-human smuggling operations since March as part of the government's efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The smuggled people are seen as potential carriers of the coronavirus and their free movement into and out of the country through illegal channels pose a health and security hazard.
The Health Ministry had reported only imported cases from overseas returnees and no local transmissions of Covid-19 since March 2, until yesterday when two cases surfaced.
It was reported on June 19 that one of the policemen arrested was an officer with the rank of assistant superintendent. It is understood that he was stationed at the Johor Baru North district police headquarters prior to his arrest.
The June 15 to 18 operation had also led to the arrest of five military personnel and 13 policemen, including two from the marine police, two from Bukit Aman and nine from the Kota Tinggi police station.