MELAKA: The kingpins of illegal gambling dens, including one "head honcho" who is said to behind about 80 per cent of the outlets, are now on the run and have fled the state following the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) crackdown and police operations.
The head honcho of the major illegal online gambling dens in Melaka Tengah district has closed operations for fear of action ordered by Melaka police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan, who has vowed to come down hard on the ring leaders.
Sources said the head honcho had stationed himself in the state to focus on expanding his unlawful business here over the last few months.
Another "smaller" operator fled to a northern state after the MACC arrested two OCPDs on May 16. Three other "middlemen" have also flown the coop and are believed to be in hiding in nearby states waiting for the situation "to cool down".
The caretakers of the gambling dens have also been left in the lurch as the illegal operators have not paid them their wages.
The caretakers, mostly foreigners, work 12 hours a day and are paid between RM60 (S$19.40) and RM70 per day.
Many of them have not received their wages since May 16 and some claim they now have no money to even buy food.
A check at some of these illegal gambling dens showed most of them had been closed for the last nine days and some patrons were seen loitering at nearby eateries hoping they would reopen.
A 26-year-old caretaker from Vietnam said the middlemen have not been in contact with him and even switched off their mobile phones.
"Many of us are left in a bind. There are no instructions whether we have to close the operations or wait for a directive from them," he said when met at a coffeeshop in Malim Jaya here.
He said the middlemen were the ones employing them and wages depended on the location of the dens.
Some of the dens, he said, occupied the upper floors of shoplots here and had no signboards.
"Our job is to key in the daily collections and upkeep the dens. Middlemen give out our daily wages and some of my friends opted for a monthly salary of RM1,800."
DCP Abdul Jalil said the illegal operators couldn't run for long.
"We will get them sooner or later," he said.
DCP Abdul Jalil said the preventive operations on illegal gambling dens have been ongoing for a long time and not just after the MACC crackdown.
"We have been cracking down on illegal dens aggressively and now we target Melaka to be free of such gambling activities.
"The kingpins are conniving, they close their operations every time there is a raid and find other ways to reopen.
"This time, I am happy to hear they left Melaka for good," he said.
DCP Abdul Jalil said his team would relentlessly pursue the kingpins until they shudder at the thought of returning to Melaka.
"It's good riddance to bad rubbish," said DCP Abdul Jalil.
DCP Abdul Jalil is not new to the vice dens in Melaka. In 2012, he led his team to a major operation as then the deputy director of Bukit Aman's gambling, gangsterism and vice division (D7).
Five civil servants were among 80 individuals arrested then in a series of raids here involving officers from Bukit Aman, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perak and Selangor.
DCP Abdul Jalil ordered 10 dens to be closed on the spot while 260 units of tabletop computers worth RM520,000 and RM10,000 in cash were seized in the operation codenamed Ops Dadu, five years ago.