MALAYSIA - When the four Myanmar men were finally rescued, they were weak, hungry and stripped of all dignity as human traffickers had chained them together like slaves.
The chained four were among the 15 foreigners rescued by police in raids in Sungai Petani, Kedah, and in George Town, Penang, north Peninsula Malaysia.
Police believed the Myanmar men, all in their 30s, had not been fed for three days when police rescued them from a house here.
They were found in a room when the police raided the place at about 10pm on Wednesday following a tip off.
The house was guarded by three other Myanmar nationals in their 40s whom the police also took into custody, said Kedah Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Nashir Ya.
Police are now on the hunt for the mastermind.
Investigations showed that the rescued foreigners were victims of a human trafficking syndicate whose members comprise Malaysians and Myanmarese.
The victims were being held captive with the intention of getting ransom from their families in Myanmar.
One of the victims told the police that he had entered the country nine days ago.
He claimed that his family had to pay 2,000 ringgit (S$765) to the syndicate before he could be taken to work at a construction site.
Mohd Nashir said the four men, all of whom did not have valid travel documents, were locked inside the house pending the payment.
"Police also found a parang and knife inside the house," he added.
Over in George Town, police stormed into two adjacent 15th floor flat units at Macallum Street Ghaut to rescue the 11 Bangladeshis.
They were suspected to have been held for weeks by a local illegal immigrant trafficking syndicate.
The syndicate was demanding ransom of up to 10,000 ringgit each from the families of the victims.
The Bangladeshis looked weak and despondent when police rescued them at about 2pm on Wednesday after monitoring the place for several days, following a tip off.
Four people, aged between 20 and 50, were arrested in the raid. One of them was a woman.
They were watching over the victims.
Penang Deputy CID chief Assistant Commissioner Nasir Salleh said police would hold a press conference over the matter soon.