Indonesian police have this month arrested nearly 500 suspects involved in the trafficking of more than 1,500 victims. This is according to officials on Tuesday, June 20.
Indonesia is one of the largest migrant worker-exporting nations in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of thousands are leaving the country every year through unofficial routes in search of higher-paying work.
Several shocking cases have highlighted the issue of human trafficking in the country in recent years. The police have therefore created a human trafficking task force this month, to stop the exploitation of Indonesians.
National police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan told AFP, that authorities have rescued 1,553 victims in the last two weeks.
“Within a short period of time, we managed to rescue this many people, but there are more people who have already left Indonesia,” he said.
Between June 5 and 18, police arrested 494 suspects. Five major traffickers are still being “hunted down”, Ramadhan said.
Many of the victims were rescued from illegal shelters. From there they were to be trafficked as maids, boat crew or prostitutes. Several cases included child exploitation.
The United Nations says between 100,000 and one million people are sold into sex work or forced into labor every year in Indonesia.
The international alarm is growing over internet scams in the region. These are often operated by trafficking victims tricked or coerced into promoting fake crypto investments. In the past year, Indonesia has rescued more than a thousand of its nationals working in online scams in Myanmar and Cambodia.
In one of the worst cases, at least 57 people were found caged on a palm oil plantation in North Sumatra last year. They were lured to an alleged drug rehab facility and then put to work on the plantation.