The immigrants, including 221 woman, did not have travel documents and were handed over to the immigration department for further action.
Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) defence director, Major-General Datuk Masrani Paiman said the villages targeted in the 18-hour operation which began at 2.30am, were Kampung Air, Bangau-Bangau, Ubian, Panji and Kampung Hallo.
In a statement here today, he said the 480 illegal immigrants were among 551 people who were checked in the joint operation involving the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysian Police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Immigration Department, National Registration Department and the Semporna District Office.
Masrani said ‘Ops Gasak’ would be extended to other districts in ESSCom, with the aim of ridding the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone) of illegal immigrants.
The ESSZone covers 10 districts over 1,733.7km from Kudat to Tawau. The districts are Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna, and Tawau.