Almost 19,000 criminals have been picked up by Indonesian police as part of the Operation Cantas Khas, which began on August 17 in the country to pursue criminal gangs nationwide.

Those arrested include armed robbers, blackmailers and members of underworld gangs.

Apart from 35 handguns, nine replica guns, one grenade and more than 1,900 bullets, local police seized u nconventional weapons, inclu­ding homemade air rifles, crossbows and axes.

According to an officer from Malaysia’s Federal Gambling and Secret Societies Division (D7), over 508,000 people and nearly 310,000 vehicles were investigated during the campaign, of them 18,977 suspected criminals were taken into custody and 840 stolen vehicles were recovered by police.

Operation Cantas Khas was launched following a spate of shootings in the country, which were believed to be related to turf wars among gangs and linked to drug trafficking and extortion activities.

In its next phase, the campaign will focus on chasing underworld kingpins and seizing their assets.

This will be done after amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act are announced, said Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.-VNA