Crime & Courts

Kedah immigration detains 30 foreigners over suspected prostitution ring involvement

BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The Immigration department detained 30 foreigners suspected of involvement with a prostitution network while attempting to enter the country at the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Security (ICQS) checkpoint.

Kedah Immigration director Mohd Ridzzuan Mohd Zain said that the foreigners, comprising 19 Thai women, 10 Thai men, and one Cambodian woman, were all detained while attempting to enter the country in 10 vehicles during an operation at 12.30pm.

He said that upon inspection, the 20 female passengers failed to provide proper travel documentation and were classified as prohibited immigrants under Section 8(3) of Act 155.

"Eight of them had stamps on their travel documents, while 12 did not have valid stamps on their passports and border passes to enter this country.

As a result, all of them, including 29 Thai nationals and one Cambodian national, were detained for further investigation.

"However, 13 of them, including five drivers, were later deported after being found ineligible for entry. The remaining 17, consisting of 12 women aged between 22 and 55 and five men suspected of being transporters aged between 20 and 40, were detained for further investigation.

"Further action, including remand orders, has been issued for the team to conduct further investigation," he said during a press conference at the Bukit Kayu Hitam ICQS yesterday.

Ridzzuan said that upon questioning, the detainees provided various reasons, including wanting to find a way to return to Thailand and seeking an inquiry counter there.

"Investigations are conducted under Section 6(1)(c) of the 1955 Act for not possessing a valid pass issued to them to enter Malaysia, and common offenses found during inspections such as no passport, blank, and no entry stamps.

"In addition, thorough investigations are also conducted under Section 8(3) of Act 155 for being suspected as prohibited immigrants," he said.

He added that the case was unique due to the attempt to enter the country without verifying passport stamps or border passes despite having those documents.

"We are still investigating whether there may be the existence of a syndicate or otherwise, and the involvement of internal officers in this case or otherwise.

"All the foreign women did not know each other, while the five detained vehicle drivers are suspected to be acquaintances.

"A police report has been filed involving the 17 detained, and they will be remanded for at least 14 days for further investigation.

"In addition, we also seized their mobile phones and five vehicles, including two Isuzu D-Max pickups, a Toyota Hilux Revo, a Honda Civic, and a Toyota Camry," he added.

Ridzzuan assured that the immigration will not compromise with any individual or party involved in illegal activity.

"Inspections and operations will continue to be carried out more frequently, especially at the Bukit Kayu Hitam ICQS entry point.

"Strict action will be taken if any party is found to have committed offenses under the Immigration Act 1959/63, Passport Act 1966, Immigration Regulations 1963, and Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007," he added.

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