Responding to a call to be rescued from prostitution produced unexpected results when Immigration Department officials found more than RM13mil at two locations.
- 20 Filipino women, from late teens to 30s, rescued from prostitution syndicates
- 3 suspects – 1 Filipino and 2 locals – arrested
- So much of cash that they were stuffed in envelopes, plastic bags and just left in the open
It was reported that the department received a tip-off that three Filipino women were being held at a hotel in the downtown area of Kota Kinabalu and wanted to be rescued from prostitution syndicates.
In an operation codenamed ‘Ops Gegar’ conducted during the early hours last Friday, Immigration officers found the women at a spa in the hotel and upon checking other rooms, found another 17 Filipino women being kept there as well.
The rescued women were in their late teens to 30s.
Three men, aged between 30 and 50, were arrested for suspected involvement in the syndicate. One of the men was a Filipino while the other two were locals.
Also detained was another Filipino woman who did not have any documents but was not part of the syndicate.
“We believe that the three men act as middlemen for the syndicate and further investigations are being conducted,” Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar told a press conference on Saturday.
During the raid, immigration enforcement personnel also discovered RM13 million cash.
Mustafar said some RM11.88 million was first discovered in one of the hotel’s rooms. The department’s enforcement team was later led to an apartment next to the hotel where they found another RM1.17 million.
“Some of the cash was stuffed in envelopes and plastic bags while some were just left in the open since there were so much of it,” Mustafar said.
Asked about the possibility that the hotel was being used as a prostitution centre, Mustafar did not rule out such a possibility.
“This is a very high-profile case as this is the first time that the department discovered such a case involving a huge amount of money.
“All angles are being looked into and we are investigating into the mastermind of the syndicate and what the purpose of the money is.
“A special team from the headquarters has been sent to Sabah to lead and coordinate the investigation,” he said.
Mustafar added that the police would also help the department with the investigation where necessary.
The case was being investigated under Section 13 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti Smuggling Act 2007.