JOHOR BARU: Johor Immigration Department enforcement officers raided a reflexology centre operating as a front for prostitution in the state capital yesterday.
The department's director, Baharuddin Tahir, said 16 people were arrested, including 10 foreign women believed to have been working as prostitutes.
He said the others detained were six men comprising three Malaysians — the caretaker of the premises and the sex workers' pimps — and three Myanmar nationals believed to have been clients of the women.
The women comprised two Indonesians, three Vietnamese and five Thais.
Baharuddin said the premises had been raided in the past, yet the proprietor resumed operations, despite stern action taken against them.
Immigration officers mounted surveillance following a public tip-off, before raiding the premises last night.
They discovered that sexual services were offered under the guise of reflexology and spa treatment to elude the authorities.
"Their modus operandi was for their clients to make reservations for the women of their choice via the WhatsApp and Telegram messaging apps," he said.
Initial investigations revealed that the women entered the country on social visit passes.
"We found several of the women in custody had been deported in the past, yet had made their way back in the country illegally… investigations are underway to establish their entry points," said Baharuddin.
One of the local men, believed to be the caretaker, was arrested under Section 56 (1)(d) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for harbouring foreign nationals, while the alleged pimps were detained on reasonable suspicion of committing offences under Section 6(1)(c) and 15(1)(c) of the same act, and Regulation 11(7)(a) of the Immigration Regulations 1963.