JOHOR BARU - At least 20 hotspots in Johor that are usually used by illegal immigrants to enter and exit the country are being closely monitored by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
According to MMEA's southern region enforcement chief, Maritime First Admiral Adon Shalan, the agency had stepped up operations before Hari Raya in anticipation of illegals leaving via the waters off Pengerang, about 110km from here.
"They usually sneak out before Hari Raya to spend time with their families.
"We have now stepped up checks at the border areas to ensure they do not sneak back into Malaysia," he said, adding that the department arrested over 200 illegals just before Hari Raya in three major operations.
It is learnt that in anticipation of the major blitz against illegals beginning from Sept 1, a joint task force has been established at the state-level, headed by the state immigration director.
However, an official familiar with the joint operation said that many of the enforcement agencies were worried about the logistics involved, especially in housing the illegals caught as Johor only has a handful of detention centres.
"Besides police lock-ups, the other places are the Ayer Molek and Pontian detention centres, and the Pekan Nenas immigration detention centre," said the source.
The source added that in the recent MMEA arrests involving about 200 illegals, all the detainees had to be sent to several police station lock-ups due to insufficient room at the immigration detention centres.
"I hope the Government and the immigration department will look into the logistics as it will not be easy to house and feed a huge number of detainees during a major operation.
"We also need to take into consideration the court process or deportation, which will take anywhere from three to six months," the source said.
According to the source, many agencies were also worried for the safety of the illegals nabbed as they do not want to be responsible for any deaths in custody.