Perak police rescued 18 locals, including five children, believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate in Pengkalan Hulu near Gerik, about 170km from Ipoh early today.
The victims comprising five men and six women aged between 27 and 64; two boys aged 13 and 17; and five children aged betweeb two and seven.
A police team rescued the victims in a raid at an oil palm plantation in Kampung Tasek, Belukar Semang at the Kroh sub-district at 12.10am.
State CID chief Gan Tian Kee said a married couple believed to have masterminded the syndicate was detained to facilitate investigations.
The suspects are aged 43 and 24.
In a statement today, Gan said one of the victims claimed the woman suspect had threatened to beat him up if he did not work in the plantation sector or enquired about his wages.
He said initial investigations revealed that the woman had also forced the five children to work at the plantation without wages.
He said the police seized, among others, a Mitsubishi Fuso lorry, Nissan Navara vehicle, several identity cards, birth certificates and 11 envelopes containing copies of Etiqa Insurance policies.
The case is investigated under Section 13 and 14 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007. –Bernama