Groups of gangsters in the eastern Sarawak state on Borneo island are believed to be holding women from the Philippines, Indonesia and China as prostitutes for foreign labourers working at the massive Bakun hydroelectric dam construction site in the state, said the Star paper.
One of the women, who obtained the mobile number of a reporter from the English daily, began sending cries for help via several short message service (SMS) which were then sent to police.
Following surveillance, police launched a raid Tuesday night, resulting in the arrest of a local pimp and 10 women from Indonesia, the Philippines and China.
State police chief Talib Jamal said the women are believed to be transported in four-wheel-drive vehicles and vans to clients at the site, which include more than 2,000 labourers and workers from the site and nearby plantations.
"They bring in the women to 'service' workers in and around the Bakun project site," he said.
Talib said police believe that gangsters are supplying the women, both local and foreign, to the workers, adding that some of the foreign women were being held against their will.
"These people are cashing in on the situation. We believe some of these women were brought into the state illegally," he told the Star.
Police are continuing to track the activities of the other syndicates, believed to be still active at the building site.