PETALING JAYA, Dec 1 — Residents of Kuala Selangor and Bestari Jaya are relieved that a notorious gang, Gang 21, has finally been wiped out after living in fear of them for about three years.
The gang was crushed with the arrest of 12 members in a 15-hour operation codenamed “Firefly”, which started on Monday.
It was the culmination of a three-month operation.
Named after Kuala Selangor’s famous attraction, the operation saw the Bukit Aman Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division (D7) arrest the group and their 46-year-old leader without the knowledge of the Kuala Selangor district police to ensure information was kept classified.
Malay Mail visited Kuala Selangor where several dilapidated houses were raided. The houses appeared unoccupied.
A 58-year-old man, who requested anonymity, said residents there were all relieved that the law has caught up with the group.
He said they had been a nuisance, including fighting with each other and racing on their motorcycles.
A woman in her 40s met outside her house said the gang members came to her area often but they mostly kept to themselves.
“We try not to associate with them to avoid any untoward arguments,” she said, declining to be named.
“The men who were caught could be released soon after investigations. They might know that I have spoken to the authorities and they might come after us,” she said.
About 10km from the main township, Bestari Jaya, some of the signboards had the gang’s number sprayed on them.
In the quiet town, formerly known as Batang Berjuntai, a protection racket under the control of Gang 21 was only a mere 500m from a police station.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday did not immediately refute the possibility that there could be links between the district police and the gang in Kuala Selangor.
When asked if they were investigating this possibility, he said: “I will explain at my next press conference.”
The Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh said a statement on the allegation would be released by the department today.
Gangsters who had been extorting businesses in Bestari Jaya were said to be very particular in making sure no one invaded their territory.
It is learnt that new businesses were forced to pay a certain amount of protection money to prevent any ‘unforeseen consequences’.
A 50-year-old businessman, who wanted to be known as Yang, said the gang would demand about RM200 to RM300 protection money monthly.
“They usually targeted those from outstation. Sometimes during Deepavali they would demand extra,” he said, the racket has been going on for quite some time.
Yang said the gang would also terrorise plantation owners and workers by extorting a ‘parking’ fee between RM500 and RM1,000.“If you have fallen oil palm trees and hired some heavy machinery to clear them, they would demand a fee for keeping your machinery out in the open,” he said.
The gangsters would threaten to destroy the machines if their demands were not met.
He added the gang members fought with one another during Chinese New Year this year not far from the police station.
“Sometimes some of the parents would threaten teachers with their underworld connections if their children were reprimanded,” he said.
A stationery shop owner, who wants to be known as Lin, 56, said the gang would extort protection fee from non-local peddler setting up shop in town.
“As far as we’re concerned, they do not disturb the locals here but I have heard from my friend who runs an electrical appliance shop in Kuala Selangor who was forced to pay RM300 to the gang,” he said.
He said the protection racket has been going on for quite some time and most of the established shop owners here are aware of it.
“Sometimes they would intimidate and demand a random amount from the victims, ranging from hundreds to thousands and some of the victims refused to return here as they fear for their safety,” he said.
Lin, whose business was spared from the racket, said he had been running his business for about 30 years.
He said there were even rumours some of the businesses associated with the racket were selling drugs from their premises.
“I am glad that they were arrested. I hope they remain behind bars for a long time because I am afraid the gang might resume their illicit activities here if they are released,” he said.
Another 56-year-old man, who runs a stationery shop, said his business remained unaffected but was aware of the gang’s racket and infightings.
“I think it’s because I have been running this shop for more than 29 years. They know I have settled here long ago. This is my hometown and I know most of them here,” he said.
He said it was good that the police have come forward to clean the town now after years of inaction.
“This is now a students’ hub. Students from the university nearby come here often. They need to have a good space to complete their studies,” he said.
The gang’s other territories were Taman Anggerik and Taman Kasawari where some of the signboards had been destroyed and vandalised with black spray.
In Taman Kasawari at Bukit Rotan, about 15km from the Kuala Selangor township, a shop is believed to be owned by one of the suspects.
“We know there were gangsters here but they have not been active in town. They are usually based in the estates,” a 48-year-old mechanic said.The gang would usually recruit school leavers by coaxing them on the pretext of providing protection to their families and themselves.
Tales of terror
Active since: 2000
Number of members: 2,357
Territory: Perak, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
● Providing protection for members to take charge of their territory.
● Demanding protection money from business owners in their town.
History of violence:
● Oct 9, 2014: Suspected leader, 53-year-old “Ah Hai”, target of grenade attack at the Cherry Blossom Club in Bukit Bintang.
The blast ripped through the front of the club, killing a car jockey. Ah Hai escaped unhurt when a second grenade thrown from the second floor of the building failed to explode.
Police believe the attack was linked to gangsterism in the area.
● Dec 4, 2014: Angered by the abduction and murder of his brother, a Gang 21 member kidnapped and killed a 30-year-old businessman. On Nov 12, 2014, the Indian-Myanmar businessman was abducted in full view of his family by four men, armed with pistols and parang, at about 6.10pm in Pusat Bandar Sentul Utara.
Eight days later, police arrested the 41-year-old gang member at Hospital Banting, Selangor, when he turned up to claim the remains of his brother. The suspect’s brother, also a member of Gang 21, was kidnapped and murdered in Selangor.
● April 21, 2007: A gang leader linked to a spate of criminal activities in Klang was nabbed when a police patrol car cornered his vehicle in Kapar. Police believed he was involved in rioting, causing injury and criminal intimidation. The suspect was detained twice before and had also been on the police wanted list for robbery.
The gang was involved in several rampages in Jalan Mengkuang, Teluk Pulai, with at least 10 vehicles damaged. It is believed the rampages were to extort protection money from residents.