Drop in cross-border crime in Tawau waters, say marine police

TAWAU, Jan 19 — Cross-border crime and entry by undocumented migrants in Tawau waters last year recorded a drop of around 50 per cent compared with the previous year, following the implementation of ‘Op Cegah Pati’ as well as the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO).

Tawau Marine Police Operations Base commanding officer DSP Mohd Nazari Ismail said that 159 arrests, involving seizures worth RM2.13 million, were recorded last year, compared with 317 cases and RM3.18 million in seizures in 2019.

“Among the threats that occur in waters between Tawau and Kalabakan include illegal immigrants who might be infected with Covid-19, as well as the smuggling of drugs and controlled items,” he told reporters here today.

He said that security forces, including the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom), were doing their best to curb cross-border crimes and the the use of Tawau waters to enter and exit the country illegally.

Elaborating, he said that the issue of undocumented migrants is closely related to the topography of Tawau district that makes human trafficking easy, especially using riverine routes along the Malaysia-Indonesia border.

He said that on the smuggling of controlled items, the marine police had detected the use of licensed local boats by smugglers under the guise of bringing subsidised goods to the residents in Pulau Sebatik here, but were actually being taken to neighbouring countries like Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Mohd Nazari said that the level of compliance of the maritime community, including Pulau Sebatik residents, during the enforcement of the MCO, was satisfactory.

“Currently, all passenger boats from Pulau Sebatik to Tawau operate according to the schedule of the standard operating procedures set by the National Security Council (MKN), which is between 6am and 2pm, while fishing vessels can operate from 6am till 6pm,” he said.

A Bernama reporter who had followed the marine police on their patrols earlier found only several fishing and passenger boats plying Tawau waters. — Bernama

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