JOHOR BARU - After Thailand and Singapore, human trafficking syndicates are now using the least expected country in the region as a backdoor into Malaysia -- Brunei.
Intelligence-sharing reports between the two neighbouring countries have revealed that transnational crime syndicates are using the oil-rich sultanate as a springboard to enter Malaysia via Sarawak.
Reports also revealed that human traffickers, upon arrival in Brunei by air, were capitalising on all four land checkpoints to enter Sarawak before going to other parts of the country. The checkpoints are Kuala Belait, Kuala Lurah, Labu and Ujung Jalan.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Alias Ahmad said it was crucial for Malaysia and Brunei to step up cooperation to serve as a check against transnational crime syndicates, which keep changing its transit points to avoid detection.
"We have detected the intention of human traffickers in using Brunei as a transit point to gain entry into our country. Our counterparts in Brunei have also revealed to us that an internationally-wanted human trafficker from Iran was detected and later arrested in Brunei recently.
"Human traffickers are always looking for loopholes in every country to facilitate their job. Both countries have vowed to step up bilateral cooperation to weed out transnational criminal activities," he said in an exclusive with the New Straits Times here.
There are about 1.5 million visitors from Malaysia to Brunei and 780,000 from Brunei to Malaysia last year through the four checkpoints.