Crime & Courts

Syndicate linked to fake UNHCR cards and masterminded by Rohingya migrant busted by Penang cops

GEORGE TOWN: Police crippled a syndicate, masterminded by a Rohingya migrant, involved in falsifying UNHCR cards and other documents and providing other services to their fellow countrymen.

Deputy state police chief Datuk Mohamed Usuf Jan Mohamad said the syndicate, which has been active for the past two years, provided services to Rohingya nationals in the north, particularly Penang and Perlis. The syndicate had raked in hundreds of thousands of ringgit every month.

He said police conducted 16 raids in Seberang Prai Tengah and Seberang Prai Utara in Penang and Arau, Perlis since Feb 14, last month.

He said police detained 14 people, aged between 18 and 63.

One of those detained was a local woman while three of the Rohingya migrants detained were women.

"Among those arrested was the mastermind, a 63-year-old Rohingya man. He has been staying here for the past 10 years.

"He admitted to selling 700 pieces of UNHCR cards to fellow Rohingya in a year, each at RM1,000, earning him RM700,000 just for that service alone.

"From our investigation, the syndicate charged between RM150 and RM1,000 for each of the services, depending on the service provided," he told newsmen at the state police contingent headquarters here today.

Some of the other foreigners detained have been living here for more than 35 years.

The mastermind had a house in Bukit Mertajam but rented a flat in Butterworth to carry out the illegal activities.

"We are also looking for a woman, identified as Sara Moghul Hussin, in her 50s, whose last known address is in Bukit Mertajam, to come forward to assist us in the investigation," Usuf said.

Usuf said that following the raids, police seized an assortment of paraphernalia used in making the fake cards and documents, 20 cards comprising 10 UNHCR cards, two I-Kads, two CIBD cards and six Republic Union of Myanmar cards, all of which were believed to be fake.

Also seized were scores of fake documents including 13 fake Myanmar passports, 37 vehicle registration certificates and 180 copies of vehicle registration certificates, eight temporary work visit passes, four Malaysian driving licences as well as three cars and eight motorcycles.

Usuf said two of the 14 people arrested, the locals, have a total of 477 vehicles, of which 247 are registered under their name.

"The vehicles are believed to be given to the foreigners for use with a certain payment," he added.

One of those arrested had a previous drug-related conviction

All those arrested have been remanded for 28 days under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) from Feb 15 to assist in the investigation.

The case is also being probed under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) 2007, which carries a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a fine or both, upon conviction.

"We urge the people to come forward to report any migrant smuggling activity or falsifying of documents to us," he added.

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