36 underworld gang members arrested, charged in Malaysia

60-year-old man arrested in Singapore

Malaysian police said on Monday that 36 suspected members of a notorious secret society known as Gang 04 were arrested recently. The authorities said that the nationwide operation dubbed Op Cantas Silver began on Jan 27 and involved suspected members aged between 20 and 60, including one holding the honorific title of Datuk.

According to Bernama, 26 suspects were arrested from Perak, Selangor, Malacca and Johor. But, the remaining suspects were picked up in Pokok Sena, Kedah, Taiping and Batu Gajah in Perak, as well as Sungai Udang, Melaka.

Perak police chief Hasnan Hassan said that the operation was conducted after a series of violent incidents including the murder of a woman with the honorific title of Datin Seri. On Jul 6, 2016, the woman was murdered in front of a restaurant in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. Again in November 2016, a man was killed utan Melintang, Bagan Datuk in Perak.

"The long-running secret society had been involved in organised crime and other criminal activities involving robbery, extortion, arson and drug trafficking," Perak's police chief told Bernama.

Hasnan added that Bukit Aman's Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) crime investigation team have also seized assets belonging to the group worth RM4.5 million that covered vehicles, property, jewellery, valuable items, bank accounts and cash.

"The police are in the midst of tracking down 10 members of the group who have fled. Interpol assistance will be sought if the suspects go into hiding abroad," he added.

All the suspects were remanded for 28 days from Jan 27 under Section 4 (5) of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA). The authorities are also investigating the case under Section 4 (1) of the Anti Money Laundering Act, Anti Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLATFPUAA) 2001.

On Tuesday, all the 36 suspects were charged at Ipoh Sessions Court under Section 130 V of the Penal Code and Section 130 W of the Penal Code for being members of the group and assisting an organised crime group. The offence carries a jail term of between five and 20 years upon conviction.

The accused were not offered any bail by judge Murtazadi Amran. Reports said that 16 suspects were represented by counsel, while the remaining 20 were unrepresented in the court. The court has set March 20 for the next hearing, and the case applications will be heard in the High Court.