KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia police intercepted a modified tanker carrying 131 Sri Lankans on Tuesday (May 1) morning, busting a human-smuggling ring that has been transporting illegal immigrants to Australia and New Zealand.
The syndicate was using the maritime passage in the waters of Tanjung Gemuk in Kota Tinggi, Johor to transfer the immigrants.
In a media release on Saturday, authorities said the tanker bearing the name Etra had been carrying 98 men, 24 women, four boys and five girls - all Sri Lanka citizens.
A fishing boat used to transport the migrants to the vessel was also raided and the seven on board - three Indonesians and four Malaysians - were arrested.
Authorities also nabbed five Malaysians involved in smuggling the migrants.
"With these arrests, the Royal Malaysia Police has successfully foiled a large and cunning human smuggling syndicate," said police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun.
"This syndicate has been operating since mid-2017 and has international connections across Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia," he added.