KOTA KINABALU, July 21 — Sabah police have arrested three Health Department drivers for allegedly smuggling undocumented people across the Kunak — Lahad Datu district border here last week.

Sabah police chief Datuk Hazani Ghazali said that two four-wheel drive vehicles bearing the ministry’s logo had bypassed three police roadblocks while ignoring orders to stop along the Kunak — Tawau road on July 13, at around 8pm.

The vehicles first aroused police suspicion at a roadblock at KM38 along the Kunak — Lahad Datu road when they sped through without stopping.

“The policemen on duty noticed some suspicious behaviour, as well as luggage at the back of the Toyota Hilux vehicles. When the drivers of the vehicles ignored orders to stop, they notified the personnel manning the KM16 Kunak — Tawau roadblock, asking them to apprehend the vehicles.

“But when the vehicles approached, they didn’t stop either and continued speeding towards Tawau,” he said.

The police then informed the roadblock at KM50 in Tawau to be on the lookout for the vehicles.

When the vehicles passed the third roadblock without stopping, a team from the Sri Indah police station gave chase and caught up with them in Balung, along Jalan Apas in Tawau.

Three men, aged between 39 and 49 years old, were arrested, and admitted to ferrying nine women and six men from Lahad Datu to Sungai Burung Tawau. 

However, there were no other passengers when the vehicles were apprehended.

The police are still investigating the case under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) or the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca).