Malaysian police said on Thursday said Eighteen Malaysian police officers and soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a drug and people smuggling ring.
Johor police chief Ayob Pitchay said that the group is accused of being part of an “organised crime syndicate’’ that involves many parties.
Pitchay told journalists that the alleged collusion spanned three years and entailed police officers and soldiers being paid up to 1000 ringgit (234 dollars) per month by smugglers.
He added that the arrests of the soldiers and police followed the detention of 40 alleged smugglers on June 4.
The third-wealthiest country in South-East Asia, Malaysia has a large foreign worker population, with the World Bank estimating that almost 1.5 million migrants were undocumented or working illegally in 2019.
Hailing from countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Myanmar, many are drawn to Malaysia by the prospect of factory or plantation jobs.
Some undocumented workers enter Malaysia clandestinely, often paying hefty fees to smuggling gangs that leave them in debt bondage.
Police in Malaysia regularly arrest migrants found to be working illegally.
The Health Ministry reported on Thursday that 775 undocumented migrants arrested during recent police raids and held at detention centres pending deportation had tested positive for coronavirus.
Malaysia has so far confirmed 8,529 coronavirus cases and 121 related deaths.