20 saved from human traffickers

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GOVERNMENT agents have arrested a hotel owner and two other suspects and rescued 20 human-trafficking victims in a series of operations in Zamboanga City, officials said Friday.

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The Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) executive director, Chief Supt. Reginald Villasanta, identified the suspects as Hadji Arraji Jammang Kamman, owner of Salwa Hotel and boat operator, Marcial Gemareno and Danny Sanrojo.

Villasanta said the three suspects were arrested during operations by Sea-Based Anti-Trafficking Task Force (SBATTF) on Wednesday that also resulted in the rescue of 20 Malaysia-bound victims.

He said Kamman was arrested by government operatives at the Lateraza Hotel in Talaban, Mercedes, leading to the rescue of nine women.

The women were recruited by the suspect to work as club attendants in Labuan, Malaysia, and were to be smuggled through Sabah, Malaysia, on his ferry, ML Weldelyn.

Villasanta said they launched the operation following a tip from another victim of Kamman who was rescued in on January 23 and was placed in the custody of the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF).

The PAOCC official said Gemerano and Sanrojo were arrested at the Zamboanga City port while escorting 11 persons that they have reportedly recruited to work as restaurant and palm oil plantation workers in Sandakan, Malaysia.

“This is part of our Case Operation Curacha aimed at neutralizing human traffickers in Mindanao, particularly those based in Zamboanga City who are notorious for sending Filipinas to brothels and other suspected sex joints in Malaysia,” Villasanta said.

The SBATFF is composed of joint operatives of the Department of Justice, the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the VFF, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Naval Intelligence Service Group, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Zamboanga City Police Office.

Villasanta said the rescued women were placed in the custody of local social welfare officials.

Kamman was discovered to be wanted for six counts of murder and attempted murder, but one of the murder cases against him was dismissed due to an affidavit filed claiming that he was already a deceased person.

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