Crime & Courts

Chinese nationals behind syndicate running illegal e-waste factories

KUALA LUMPUR: The Immigration Department has uncovered a syndicate run by foreigners operating an illegal electronic waste processing factory in Klang, Selangor.

Immigration Department director-general Datuk Ruslin Jusoh said the raid was conducted by a team from the Atipsom and Amla Prevention Division, in collaboration with the department's Enforcement Division on Thursday at 1.30pm.

He said the operation was carried out based on public complaints regarding a suspected illicitly-operated factory that also employed foreigners, with possible elements of human trafficking.

"The raid was done after an initial investigation based on the National Guideline on Human Trafficking Indicators (NGHTI) 2.0 to identify potential victims of human trafficking.

"A total of 35 foreigners were inspected in the operation, with 33 of them, including two Chinese men, 27 Myanmar men, two Cambodian men, one Myanmar woman and one Cambodian woman being detained.

"They are aged between 19 and 40 years old and are working and residing in the factory premises which have been used as dormitories for the past four months," he said.

Ruslin said that upon detainment, it was found that none of the foreign individuals possessed travel documents. Their documents are believed to have been held by the factory owner, said to be a Chinese national.

"The factory's operation involves the processing of e-waste, including the separation of hazardous materials containing valuable metals.

"From the invoices discovered on location, it was observed that the e-waste received was limited in quantity. This would ensure that it could be processed within a week as it is done by skilled Chinese workers," he said.

Ruslin said that to avoid being detected, the operation would move on to other factories with similar operations before leaving the country.

"The estimated profits from these activities are approximately between RM300,000 and RM500,000.

"Based on information obtained from detained foreigners, it is suspected that the e-waste recycling company is registered under a local individual but is actually managed by Chinese nationals through proxies," he said.

Ruslin said the team would continue its efforts to track down the owner of the factory based on the passport numbers obtained, including the owner of the relevant land lot.

"The case is being investigated under the Immigration Act 1959, Passport Act 1966, and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom) 2007.

"We are committed to addressing this matter seriously and will enforce stringent measures against any individuals, organisations, or employers engaging in the hiring of undocumented foreign workers.

"This encompasses the recruitment of undocumented workers, which can result in instances of forced labour and subsequent exploitation," he said.

Ruslin said enforcement operations are ongoing, with severe penalties imposed on any entities found in breach of regulations.

"The public is encouraged to continue reporting information to the Immigration Department to facilitate legal action against employers and undocumented foreign workers, contributing to the efforts to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling," he said.

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