Illegal gambling, scam cases on the rise this year

Illegal gambling centres like this one were raided throughout the year.

KUCHING: Crimes, such as illegal gambling and various forms of scams were on the rise throughout the period under review — January 1 to November 30 this year.

In addition to this, there were sensational crime cases that caught the attention of the whole country. Among them was a manhunt in Kuching for an alleged human organ trafficker (whose story reported by British tabloid, The Sun, on Aug 8).

In less than a week the suspect, Shaifullizan Abdul Mutalib, 48, turned himself in. That was on Aug 13. After some probing, the man’s claim of being a human organ trafficker was found to be false.

Shaifullizan was later re-arrested as he was believed to be involved in a criminal breach of trust case in 2012 while he was working for the Sarawak Insolvency Department. He was alleged to have issued several departmental payment vouchers worth RM249,101.25 to individuals unrelated to the department’s scope of business.

On Sept 3, he pleaded guilty to three charges under Section 409 of the Penal Code and was sentenced to 15 years’ jail and ordered to be given six strokes of the cane.

The human organ trafficking suspect, Shaifullizan whose claims were later found false.

In the case against drugs, the state police recorded their largest drug haul in Miri on Aug 3. Two condominium units were raided and drugs worth RM2,080,890 were confiscated.

In the process, they also shut down an illegal drug lab, arrested two persons, aged 43 and 28, and seized cash plus properties worth RM43,360.

Later in the year, on Nov 26, a Customs officer in Kuching received a death threat in the form of a package containing two live bullets and a note which read, “Got two bullets, one long, one short, which one you want?”

The officer lodged a police report and soon, three men, aged between 35 and 39, were arrested.

The police also went after the mastermind who soon turned himself in at Sungai Merah police station in Sibu on Nov 30.

Investigations by the Customs Department found that the case was related to two operations carried out at Sibu’s Rajang Port Sibu and Bintulu Port from Oct 21 to Nov 3. The operations netted a seizure of goods worth RM2.64 million with unpaid duty estimated at RM655,301.76.

Back to the beginning of this year, on Jan 15, 11 men from China were arrested in a house at Jalan Stampin Tengah on suspicion of running non-existent loan scams.

The raiding team also seized 56 SIM cards, 22 phones, six routers, four automatic teller machine (ATM) cards, two printers, two card scanners, a computer, a vehicle and several documents.

All of the arrestees were charged with criminal conspiracy to commit fraud under Section 120 B (1) of the Penal Code read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code which provides for a jail term of not less than one year and not more than ten years plus whipping, and fine.

Four of them were charged under Section 15(4) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for overstaying in Malaysia. The section provides for a fine of not less than RM10,000 or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both.

The remaining offenders were charged under Regulation 39(b) of the Immigration Regulations 1963 for violating the conditions of their passes, permits or border passes. The law provides for a fine not exceeding RM1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

For more details, the following are some crime statistics prepared by the respective state police headquarters.

Note that the statistics cover the period from January to November 2020 and are compared to statistics for the same period in 2019.

Criminal Investigation Department (CID)

This department is responsible for investigating all criminal cases except narcotics and commercial crimes.

The headquarters said the crime index and charge rate in Sarawak were generally under control.

A total of 11,646 investigation papers were opened this year compared to 10,403 in 2019.

The increment was largely due to offenses committed under the movement control order (MCO) from March 18 to November 31, for which there were 1,333 investigation papers. Among the offenses committed under the MCO were the spread of fake news, standard operating procedure (SOP) violations and so on.

Under crime index, the department recorded 5,398 cases compared to 5,266 last year, an increase of 132 cases or 2.51 percent.

Violent crimes dropped 66 cases to 723 cases this year, compared to 789 in 2019.

Despite the increase in the crime index, the charge rate this year was better than last year’s. The charge rate target for the CID set by Bukit Aman was 35 percent of the investigation papers opened. For Sarawak CID, the charge rate this year is 43.78 percent or 5,095 charges from 11,646 the investigation papers opened.

This is better than 2019’s charge rate of 38.9 percent, equivalent to 4,144 charges from 10,403 investigation papers opened, which is an increase of 955 charges.

For cases that could not be prosecuted in court, they will be subject to the Crime Prevention Act 1959, under which 87 people have been detained and or restricted by court order this year compared to last year’s figure of 93.

Murder cases (under Section 302 of the Penal Code)

Eight investigation papers were opened compared to 30 in 2019. This is a reduction of 22 cases or 73.3 percent.

Rape cases

There was a decline of 15 cases or 11.11 percent of the 129 investigation papers opened. Last year, 144 investigation papers were opened.

Robbery and group robbery cases (armed and unarmed)

A total of 263 investigation papers were opened compared to 323 last year. This was a decline of 60 cases or 18.57 percent.

Abuse of firearms

To combat this, a special team was set up to run Ops Laras aimed at monitoring the abuse of licensed and unlicensed firearms. They deal with death and injury cases as a result of being shot while hunting as well as violations of the terms of firearms licences.

Throughout the year, 93 firearms were confiscated compared to 61 confiscated in 2019. Among other things, the offenders failed to renew their licences or transfer the ownership (probate), thus, violating the terms of their licences. A homemade firearm or air rifles was also seized.

Illegal gambling (under ‘Ops Dadu’)

Ops Dadu covers all types of raids on unlicensed (regular) gambling, online gambling, cockfighting, illegal lotteries and so on.

The department carried out 2,366 raids this year compared to 1,583 in 2019 on such criminal activities. A total of 1,743 raids were on online gambling compared to last year’s 801, which was an increase of 942 raids.

This operation has been further augmented with power supply cutting operations at gambling premises.

For such (power supply cut) operations, the department and Sarawak Energy Berhad (Sesco) had carried out a total of 735 compared to 204 in 2019. This was an increase of 531 or 260.3 percent.

Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID)

This department is responsible for investigating cases of fraud, criminal breach of trust, cybercrime, forgery, unlicensed money lenders (Ah Long), counterfeit money and others.

A total of 1,371 cases were recorded this year compared to last year’s figures of 1,281 cases, an increase of 34.16 percent.

Losses for commercial crime was RM63 million for this year while last year recorded losses amounting to RM115 million, a decrease of RM52 million or -45.49 percent.

Commercial crime cases involving the most victims in Sarawak are as follows: 280 cases of non-existing money lending fraud, 171 cases of Macau scam, 53 cases of Internet purchase fraud, 125 cases of criminal breach of trust, 79 cases of love scam (or known as African Scam or Parcel Scam), and 75 cases of investment fraud.

The department’s continuous effort to curb commercial crimes in the state has resulted in 649 arrests for this year. A total of 620 people (including from previous year’s cases) have been charged in court, the charge involved 1,371 investigation papers and 1,672 charges.

CCID Success

Throughout the year, Sarawak CCID busted several syndicates such as ‘Keldai Akaun’ involving non-existing loans, Macau scam, African or Love scam, and Internet purchase fraud, of which 157 individuals, comprising 94 men and 63 women, faced 153 charges. The total losses involved were approximately RM17.2 million.

The police also busted a ‘Valentine Gang’ believed to be involved in vehicle fraud which had caused 15 victims to suffer losses amounting to RM55,200. The suspect faced 29 charges under Section 420 of the Penal Code and two charges under Section 424 of the Penal Code in court.

In Kuching, police arrested a man who conned students to make payments for driving classes. However, the payments made were not paid to a company but used by the suspect. It happened between May last year to August this year. Thirteen investigation papers were opened and it involved losses amounting to RM8,450.

The suspect pleaded guilty before the Magistrate’s Court in Kuching to 15 charges under Section 403 of the Penal Code and was sentenced to 31 months in jail and to be canned 15 times.

Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID)

The Sarawak NCID’s overall arrests have shown an increase of 28 percent which is equivalent to 10,459 arrests for this year.

For the overall arrests in the supply category (drug traffickers) compared to last year’s figure, it showed a decline of four percent which is 667 arrests this year compared to 2019’s 695 arrests.

For arrests under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, a total of 150 arrests have been made thus, showing an increase of 29 percent compared to last year’s 116 arrests.

As for arrests for possessing (drugs), they increased by seven percent, equivalent to 2,199 arrests this year compared to 2,060 arrests last year.

Arrests under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) 1985 showed a decrease of 47 percent with 42 arrests made this year while last year, there were 79 dealers arrested.

For actions under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Forfeiture of Property) 1988 which focuses on drug dealers, the department this year have recorded a seizure of RM6,077,370.03, which is an increase of 36.34 percent compared to last year’s seizure worth RM4,457,411.99 on the drug dealers’ properties.

Sarawak General Operations Force (GOF)

Statistics are recorded from January to December 18.

Throughout the year, GOF have recorded a total seizure worth RM36,803,519 involving various types of seizures such as vehicles, ships, various birds, cigarettes, beers, logs and others.

Under Op Libas, the team recorded seizures worth RM29,655,590; seizures amounting to RM5,286,670 for Ops Bersepadu Khazanah; seizures worth RM1,759,422 for Ops Benteng; seizures worth RM83,200 for Ops Awas; and seizures worth RM8,637 for Ops Batas.

The GOF also rejected bribery attempts this year amounting to RM56,000, of which RM45,300 under Ops Libas; RM7,000 under Ops Bersepadu Khazanah; and RM3,700 under Ops Benteng Covid.

Sarawak Marine Police Force (PPM) Region 5

The Sarawak PPM Region 5 from Jan to Dec 20 recorded 1,013 cases of arrests and summons compared to last year’s figure of 823 cases. This indicates an increase of 190 cases.

Of the cases reported, the marine police have recorded a total value of RM31,328,595.32. This shows a decrease of RM1,091,585.95 as the total value in 2019 is RM32,420,181.27.

Meanwhile, the marine police made 48 arrests under the Customs Act 1967 involving goods worth RM8,219,205.82; 40 arrests under the Control of Supply Act 1961 with a value of RM8,531,714.50; and one case under the Control of Padi And Rice Act 1994 with a confiscation value of RM2,200.