Illegal gambling kingpins flee Melaka after crackdown

A dozen suspects, including top cops, arrested so far in vice probe

MELAKA • The kingpins of illegal gambling dens in Melaka are on the run and have fled the state following a recent crackdown by the anti-graft authorities on corrupt policemen.

Melaka police chief Abdul Jalil Hassan has vowed to come down hard on the illegal operators, saying preventive operations on illegal gambling dens have been ongoing for a long time.

"We have been cracking down on illegal dens aggressively and now we target Melaka to be free of such gambling activities.

"The kingpins are conniving. They close their operations every time there is a raid and find other ways to reopen.

"This time, I am happy to hear they left Melaka for good," he said. "It's good riddance to bad rubbish."

On May 16, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission arrested three senior police officers for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye to illegal gambling dens and massage parlours operating in the districts of Jasin and Melaka Tengah.

A dozen people have been arrested in the ongoing investigation into an alleged protection racket for vice syndicates.

A check at some of these illegal gambling dens yesterday showed most of them have been closed for the last nine days, with some patrons seen loitering at nearby eateries, hoping they would reopen.

The caretakers of these premises are mainly foreign workers who are paid between RM60 (S$19.40) and RM70 per day for a 12-hour shift.

Many of them have not received their wages since May 16 and some claim they now have no money to even buy food.

It is believed that the kingpins' "middlemen" are in hiding in nearby states, waiting for the police operations to abate.

A 26-year-old caretaker from Vietnam said the middlemen have not been in contact and had even switched off their mobile phones.

"Many of us are left in a bind. There are no instructions whether we have to close the operations or wait for a directive from them," he said.

Some of the dens, he said, occupied the upper floors of shoplots here and had no signboards.

"Our job is to key in the daily collections and upkeep the dens."

Deputy Commissioner Abdul Jalil is a veteran at raids on illegal activities in Melaka.

In 2012, he led a series of raids on gambling dens in the state and ordered 10 of them to be shut on the spot.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2017, with the headline 'Illegal gambling kingpins flee Melaka after crackdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe