By BORNEOTODAY REPORTERS
LABUAN: A tip off led police here to rescue seven Filipinas said to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate in the duty-free-island here Tuesday morning.
They were among 28 women, all Filipinas, who were arrested at an entertainment outlet downtown here, for working as guest relation officers (GROs) without a permit.
All the women, aged between 23 and 53 years old, also did not possess valid travel documents, said Assistant Commissioner Adzhar Othman, the Labuan police chief.
It is understood that the seven Filipinas, aged between 23 and 30, were promised well-paying jobs as waitresses, but were forced into becoming GROs once they arrived in Labuan.
Police are now investigating to determine the mastermind of the syndicate.
ACP Adzhar, when contacted, said personnel from the Labuan Criminal Investigation Department and Sabah Police contingents raided the premises in a joint operation at about 2am.
He said police were tipped off that the people who ran the entertain outlet had allegedly hired foreign workers as GROs – women who are paid by the hour or per drink to accompany male customers – and they did not possess proper documents.
According to ACP Adzhar, the seven victims are currently under police custody and protection while the rest are being detained for further questioning.
ACP Adzhar said the case is being investigated under Section 12 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007, Section 6(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/1963, Section 55 B of the Immigration Act 1959/1963 and Regulation 39(b) Immigration Regulations 1963.
During the raid, police also arrested a 52-year-old local man, who is the caretaker of the premises, and two workers, aged 37 and 57.
“The operation is part of our efforts at monitoring vice-related activities throughout the island,” he said.
“I also want to remind all employers to have ready, proper documentation when hiring foreign workers and they must not be involved in human trafficking.”