The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has broken up a syndicate led by a Vietnamese woman that specialized in forging records of foreign fishermen, enabling them to work and cross borders illegally, an official said Tuesday.
The syndicate targeted Vietnamese fishermen who did not have work permits or whose seaman’s books had expired, MMEA deputy operations director Maritime Capt. V. Pannir Selvan said.
Selvan described the suspect as a Vietnamese woman in her 30s who holds Malaysian permanent resident status. The woman, who was not named, was arrested during a house raid by MMEA in the state of Pahang on Feb 3.
“During the raid on the suspect’s house, the MMEA team managed to seize 36 Vietnamese passports, 54 Vietnamese seaman’s books, fake seaman approval stamps, and other questionable documents,” he said.
A seaman book is a continuous record of service that must be carried and is an official and legal record of sea experience.
On Jan. 30, MMEA arrested 19 Vietnamese between the ages of 19 and 50 who were in Malaysia illegally, as they attempted to leave aboard a local fishing boat off the southeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Investigators said they identified the syndicate’s male ringleader as Vietnamese national Nguyen Au Yang, who apparently managed to evade arrest on Feb 6.