KUCHING: Soldiers patrolling the Malaysian-Kalimantan border near Ladang Empaling in Kampung Stass, Bau on Sunday foiled the construction of a wooden bridge to be used as an entry point by illegal immigrants and for the smuggling of goods.
A statement from the First Infantry Division yesterday said members of the Fourth Regiment Royal Armoured Corps were conducting an operation in the area some 50 metres from the border, when they heard the sound of an excavator being operated.
“Upon checking the source of the sound, the soldiers came across 10 suspected illegal immigrants unloading goods along the trail using a four-wheel-drive vehicle and four lorries.
“An excavator was also seen constructing a wooden bridge to be used as an entry/exit point,” it said.
According to the statement, the arrival of the soldiers saw the suspects flee back across the border, leaving behind the goods, vehicles and machinery.
The value of the goods seized, which comprised eggs, vegetables, fertiliser and plywood, as well as the vehicles and the excavator, was estimated at nearly RM500,000, it added.
All the items were handed over to police in Bau for further investigation.
Meanwhile, the statement said a local man, believed to be the middleman in the illegal cross-border activities, was arrested in connection with the incident.
“In view of the current development of the Covid-19 pandemic and the threat of cross-border crime and smuggling activities in Sarawak and Kalimantan, the Armed Forces through the First Infantry Division is constantly on guard and will continue to increase security controls in dealing with activities that could interfere with the security and sovereignty of the country,” said the statement.