Malaysian Immigration Department Director-General Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the 4:30am operation was conducted by an enforcement team at two condominium premises.
“A Bangladeshi man was arrested during the operation. He is believed to have a role in managing the arrival of foreign workers and supplying them to employers.
“We also detained two men and a woman, also from Bangladesh, who acted as assistants and controllers of a transit home from where the victims were sent to agents or employers.
“The victims’ mobile phones, passports and cash were confiscated by the syndicate and they were not allowed to make any phone calls,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mustafar said the victims were also threatened with bodily harm if they did not obey instructions or tried to escape from the transit home.
The syndicate is also believed to have been involved in printing fake immigration safety stickers.
“We found a computer, a printer - believed to be used in such activities - in a room in one of the premises. We also found the victims’ passports.
“(In Bangladesh), the victims were told that they would get a job in Malaysia, and each of them would have to pay RM18,000 to RM20,000 to enter Malaysia through Indonesia.
“They took a flight from Bangladesh to Jakarta. They were later taken to a (remote) location before they travelled by boat and were smuggled into Malaysia,” he said.
While in Indonesia, the victims were placed in a transit house and were controlled by the syndicate. They were prevented from leaving the house and were fed by the syndicate.
“According to some of the victims, they stayed in the transit house for two to seven days until an employer was willingly pay the syndicate for their employment.
“They also claimed they were forced to sell all their belongings and property in their country, including their houses and land, to get money to come to Malaysia.”
Mustafar believes the syndicate has been operating for quite some time, based on the modus operandi.