Johor police have arrested 40 members of an organised crime syndicate involved in human trafficking activities for the past several years.

Johor police chief, Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said, the operation codenamed Op-Benteng, was carried out by the Johor Criminal Investigation Department in collaboration with Bukit Aman’s D3 D4 divisions in several locations around the state from June 4 to 7.

He said, the suspects arrested comprised 20 local men, a woman who is a permanent resident, and 19 Indonesian men aged between 22 and 58.

"Three of the suspects arrested were human trafficking syndicate agents, ten were transporters, 15 land smuggling agents and 12 caretakers of confinement centres.

"Also seized were 16 cars, a van, eight fibre boats and 114 mobile phones of various brands," he told reporters at a press conference here today.

He said, the group which was believed to be active since 2014, managed to smuggle about 500 to 600 migrants a month for between RM1,200 and RM1,400 each.

"The group focuses on smuggling activities along the east coast of Johor, beginning from Batam, Indonesia, and then on to Tiram (Johor Bahru), Sungai Rengit (Pontian), Punggai (Kota Tinggi), Bandar Penawar (Kota Tinggi), Sedili (Kota Tinggi) until Tenggaroh (Mersing), which takes about 45 minutes.

"Through these arrests - based on our intelligence - almost 95 per cent of the syndicate members located on the east coast have been arrested, and investigations will continue to be conducted to trace the remaining members, and after this, we may focus on the west coast of Johor," he said.

He said, the police did not rule out the possibility of collaborating with Indonesian authorities to locate the syndicate chief believed to be in Batam, Indonesia. - BERNAMA