KUALA LUMPUR - Twelve police officers have been arrested for alleged links to the mass graves found near the Malaysia-Thailand border, Malaysia's Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said on Wednesday.
Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi told parliament the officers had been nabbed in three operations since last year for suspected involvement in human trafficking.
Four were arrested by the police while eight others were arrested by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), The Star reported him as saying.
Authorities were currently investigating the extent of their involvement.
Dr Wan Junaidi said they would investigate all the enforcement agencies involved in border patrol, including the police and the Forestry Department, among others.
He added that they also arrested 43 people suspected to be involved in human trafficking syndicates.
Malaysia's police chief said on Monday it had found 139 graves, and signs of torture, in more than two dozen squalid human trafficking camps suspected to have been used by gangs smuggling migrants across the border with Thailand, Reuters reported.
Malaysia's government has expressed shock at the camps and graves. Activists, however, told AFP they have fed authorities evidence for years, yet nothing was done.
Dr Wan Junaidi on Wednesday said the inaccessible terrain and remote locations had prevented the government from learning about the mass graves discovered in Wang Kerian, Perlis near the Thai border.
"Because of the terrain and its remoteness, we never expected any activity going on there," he said.
He said the location of the graves was about a three-hour hike from the nearest point accessible by vehicles.
He also said the area was steep and easier to access from Thailand.