PUTRAJAYA, May 4 – A total of 15 individuals believed to be masterminds and leaders behind ‘tonto’ syndicates have been detained in an operation dubbed ‘Ops Cantas Khas Tonto’ conducted since April 26. The success which came after three months of planning and intelligence was a collaborative effort between the Road Transport Department (RTD) Special Action Squad and the Police D7 Unit.
“Those detained were alleged to have provided information to lorry operators who had been committing various road traffic offences. Thirteen vehicles used by the syndicates have been seized and those detained will be charged under the Criminal Procedure Code and Prevention of Crime Act (POCA),” Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said at an ‘Ops Cantas Khas Tonto’ press conference here Tuesday.
Also present were RTD director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad and Bukit Aman CID director, Datuk Seri Mohmad Salleh. Liow said wiping out ‘tonto’ syndicates was among the ministry’s top priorities this year because apart from ‘protecting’ law offenders, the syndicates were also a danger to enforcement personnel. He said the syndicates had also caused losses to the government.
“We lose up to RM12 million a year in unpaid road taxes while the Public Works Department has to spend some RM100 million a year repairing roads damaged by overloaded lorries. The success of this operation is a clear message to lorry operators on our seriousness in taking action against them, and with the masterminds caught we can further identify if government officials are also involved in the syndicates,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mohmad said the operation which was only focused on tonto activities in the Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan and Perak also led to the seizure of 13 mobile phones, 13 walkie-talkies and three lorries laden with sand, bricks and iron rods for construction work.
“It had not been an easy task for the police and RTD but I am confident with our capability in terms of logistics, efficient manpower and continuous cooperation, we will be able to resolve problems related ‘tonto’ syndicates,” he said, adding the police were actively tracking six more individuals to assist in investigations.