KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — A total of 14 people are believed to be involved in the illegal mining of gold at the Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve in Lahad Datu following the discovery 103 holes and active underground tunnels, last August.
Sabah General Operations Force (GOF) brigade deputy commander, commanding officer Toipi Lamat, said the individuals were believed to be locals and foreigners, as well as illegal immigrants based on the six temporary settlements found at the mining site.
He added during the raid on Oct 8, the GOF found weapons such as homemade shotguns and live ammunition in the temporary settlements which had been demolished.
“A total of six areas involving temporary settlements were found, believed to be the huts occupied by the miners in the Sungai Bole area. There were at least 14 suspects, with no less than two women involved.
“However, no suspects have been arrested since the integrated operation started in August. From an on-site investigation, we believe that the suspects are divided into groups of three, each being given a specific role,” he told Bernama.
On Aug 20, GOF conducted an integrated operation dubbed Op Khazanah in collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department and the WorldWide Fund (WWF) and found the illegal mining sites after travelling 72 kilometres from Ladang Ongkor.
Toipi said within an eight kilometre-stretch, some 103 holes and newly dug underground tunnels were found.
“Following that, I led the team to re-enter the area to conduct an investigation and a raid which led to the discovery of three dump areas (storage areas) filled with food items, tools, kitchen utensils, personal belongings and mining equipment,” he said. — Bernama