LUNDU, June 22, 2020 -  As many as 49 new rat routes have been identified in Sarawak that are used by illegal immigrants to enter and exit the country.

Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) Chief, General Tan Sri Dato' Sri Haji Affendi bin Buang RMAF today said the town of Biawak is one of the areas in the state which has many hotspots that need to be controlled to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, curb cross-border crimes and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“‘Ops Benteng’ involves the integrated cooperation of all the enforcement and security agencies in thwarting the entry of illegal immigrants, whether by land or sea.

“This operation will be continued so that the rat lanes can be closed and monitored tightly, and control will be enhanced at hotspots,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after a working visit to Pos Kawalan Biawak here and presenting Aidilfitri and Gawai goody packages here.

He also said the ATM, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and other enforcement and security agencies will remain committed in implementing ‘Ops Benteng’ through integrated coordination and will ensure the country’s borders (both land and sea) are not compromised.

‘Ops Benteng’ has been active since May under the National Task Force (NTF) in collaboration with the ATM, PDRM, MMEA, the Health Ministry, Malaysian Civil Defencse Force, the Immigration Department and Malaysian Volunteer Corps Department.

Since the NTF was activated in Sarawak, 962 illegal migrants and 160 tekong have been arrested for illegally entering the Malaysian border, while 33 individuals have been detained on suspicion of smuggling goods which were seized worth RM1.57 million.