Members of the Malaysia-Indonesia-India syndicate tried to transport the 17 victims by speed boat through the waters of Sungai Cingam Village in Rupat Island, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province, at the end of March, said Riau Police spokesperson Sen.Coms.Sunarto.
"The human trafficking operation was conducted from Rupat Island because the boat could reach Malaysian territory within 30 minutes," he said in a press statement that ANTARA received in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau Province, on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Police arrested five suspects -- identified as AM alias Ahmad, AR alias Abdul, KH alias Irul, HL alias Lina, and SP alias Pian -- who played different roles in the human trafficking operation.
Ahmad served as the boat's skipper, while Abdul and Irul were crew members. Lina served as the recruiter and enticed the victims to travel to Malaysia by promising them high wage jobs, while Pian coordinated the operation.
The suspects were likely Rupat islanders, stated Suharto. They tried to take the people who paid them by speed boat through the Morong Strait to Malaysia.
The Riau police are still hunting down 21 more suspects. Several of them were foreign nationals, he added.
The trafficking attempt comes at a time when Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are busy battling the outbreak of covid-19, a global pandemic which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. (antara)