Ex-Politician Arrested For Running Human Trafficking Syndicate In Guise Of Rehab Centre
The police have arrested 11 people, among them a former politician, on the suspicion of human trafficking behind the ruse of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Penang
According to New Straits Times, the former politician in his 50s, who owns the rehabilitation centre and claims to be a Datuk, was detained at his home in George Town at 8.25pm on Sunday, 30 October.
This was following the arrest of 10 other individuals including two women, aged between 22 and 60, in a series of raids in Penang and Kedah from 27 October.
It was reported that the former politician had contested in the 14th General Election (GE14), but lost in both parliamentary and state seats. He also lost his deposits.
During the raids, the police managed to rescue 13 victims, all men aged between 22 and 62, who were forced to work instead of receiving treatment at the rehabilitation centre in Nibong Tebal
According to a statement on Monday, 31 October, state police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said they found out about the syndicate's activity after receiving a tip-off.
"[These patients] were sent to the centre for treatment. Some even paid between RM1,200 and RM1,500 monthly," he explained during a press conference at the Penang police headquarters.
"Instead of being treated, they were forced to work as slaves, in car washes, eateries, and as air conditioning servicemen."
The police chief added that the victims were forced to work without wages and holidays, and were tortured, beaten, as well as chained up to prevent them from escaping.
The centre was also equipped with closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) to monitor the hostages' movements.
Initial investigations found that the centre has been operating for about two years
Shuhaily said the former politician is suspected of being the syndicate's mastermind, Bernama reported.
The case is currently being investigated under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, which carries a maximum 20 years' jail and fine, upon conviction.
The police chief also urged anyone with information about the case to come forward to assist the police in investigations.