Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Women trafficking gang uncovered

Fadli, The Jakarta Post, Batam, Riau

The country's top detective, Comr. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng, said in Batam on Wednesday that the National Police, in cooperation with the Malaysian police, had uncovered a women trafficking syndicate.

The syndicate, which sent Indonesian women to Malaysia to work as prostitutes, operated from 2001 to 2003.

Erwin said the syndicate was headed by Siti Mawar Boru Sembiring, alias Marlina, 48, Suriana, alias Nena, 21, and Syaiful Bahri, alias Kojek, 24.

The three were arrested separately by the North Sumatra Police on Nov. 7 and Dec. 9 last year.

According to the police investigation, assisted by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), the syndicate smuggled about 200 women into Malaysia to work as prostitutes.

The victims, mostly between the ages of 17 and 25, were sold to pimps in Malaysia for between RM 1,700 (US$425) and RM 3,500.

"Dossiers on the case have been handed over to the North Sumatra Prosecutor's Office and the suspects are awaiting trial. Human trafficking has become a transnational crime and concerted efforts between governments must be intensified to deal with this crime," said Erwin on the sidelines of a conference on human trafficking at the Turi Beach Hotel in Batam.

Erwin, accompanied by Sr. Comr. Dwi Priyanto, senior liaison officer at the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said the syndicate was busted following a tip from the Royal Malaysian Police.

The Malaysian police found that the perpetrators were Indonesian citizens, as were the victims, so they swiftly coordinated with their Indonesian counterparts.

Police investigators found that the women being smuggled into Malaysia were from Medan in North Sumatra, Riau and several other areas in Sumatra.

Exit points for the smuggled women were the ports of Belawan, Batam, Tanjung Pinang, Dumai and Tanjung Balai Karimun.

"According to their confessions, they (the suspects) only smuggled about 50 women, but according to our investigation we are sure the number of women smuggled into Malaysia was at least 200 since the operation began," said Dwi Priyanto.

Meanwhile, Mark D. Clark, first secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, said his government had given $2 million in aid to the Indonesia government this year to fight women trafficking.

The aid was in the form of technical assistance.