NST 11 September 2012
By FARRAH NAZ KARIM AND ALANG BENDAHARA
KAMUNTING: AMASSING a personal fortune of more than RM225 million in just three years running a human smuggling network, Kasmin (not his real name), 49, was flying high, thinking nothing could stop his operations.
News that the Internal Security Act had been repealed, further emboldened him.
Now behind bars and knowing that his detention cannot be extended, Kasmin runs his set-up with the help of trusted lieutenants outside the camp. All he does now is count the money as it rolls in while being a guest of the taxpayers at the maximum-security detention centre.
He had the services of several people in the many enforcement agencies, which could threaten to cripple his lucrative business, eating from the palm of his hands, with monthly payoffs.
So well covered was his operations that an entire village was in his payroll. It was rumoured that like the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, Kasmin was well-liked by the villagers who would alert him and his lieutenants if there were unfamiliar faces in the village or strangers asking too many questions.
In exchange for their loyalty, Kasmin was generous. It was reported that he even forked out RM60,000 to pay for a villager's heart operation.
But things came to an end when a team from the Special Branch, which had been watching his every move, swooped in and shut down his operation.
Two months later, his lieutenant, who had absconded to India, came back and surrendered, realising that he couldn't be on the run forever and leave his five children behind in Malaysia.
The duo couldn't argue their case with their arresting officers when they were shown a stack of files and evidence of their involvement -- from the coffee sessions they had had with their clients and runners, to pictures of the people they had moved.
They then joined scores of other human smugglers already incarcerated at the Kamunting detention camp, including a notorious Sri Lankan syndicate leader who goes by the name Tony.