PETALING JAYA: Illegal 4D bookies, especially those who have police records, may soon find themselves locked away for up to two years under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca). "We intend to put them out of business for good," said federal police Criminal Investigations Department assistant director and head of the anti-vice, gambling and secret societies division (D7), SAC Datuk Roslee Chik, in the wake of concerns expressed by netizens who question how some illegal 4D operators seem to spring back into business soon after a police raid. "The modus operandi used by illegal 4D syndicates is changing every day. They are turning to cyberspace and social media applications like WeChat to communicate with their accomplices in carrying out their activities. They think they are smart but it will not be for long and we will nail them," he told theSun. "From now on, police will detain all illegal bookies with previous records under Poca so that we can put them out of business for good," he said, adding that they could also be booked under the Anti-Money Laundering Act. "Through this action, the criminals will automatically fall under our (police) radar and there will be no escape after this," he said, adding that reducing the number of such criminals involved with gambling syndicates is D7's utmost priority. POCA provides for suspected criminals to be detained without trial for up to 60 days initially, and upon an order signed by the home minister, the detention period can be extended to up to two years. Since early this year, police have begun cracking down on illegal 4D and online betting services, with 10 cyber cafes closed down in Klang and arrests in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Baru, but the public is demanding sterner action and for outdated gamining laws to be amended. A source said that when illegal 4D runners were hauled up to court, their immediate "bosses" would quickly settle the fines imposed. "The runners will plead guilty and usually get away with an average fine of RM900 – an amount that is chicken feed – as they are deemed to have saved the court's time," the source said, adding that even repeat offenders seemed to have an easy time. "They seem to get bolder by the day and are fearless of the law," he noted. Netizens want the authorities to take stern action against these impudent operators who are not deterred and are back in business in the same vicinity despite multiple raids conducted earlier. theSun had on April 15 reported on the mushrooming of illegal 4D betting operators in the country which is taking a large chunk of profits away from legitimate gaming companies and depriving the government of a whopping RM3 billion in tax revenue annually. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently announced the setting up of a parliamentary caucus on illegal gambling soon to enable the government together with the opposition draw up effective measures in combating illegal gambling. Roslee said police had reduced the number of illegal gambling establishments in the last two years. However, he said, police had faced stubborn resistance in certain districts, where the 4D betting and gambling operators who had been arrested earlier and with previous records continued to operate in the same vicinity. It is learnt that runners caught during a raid are usually investigated under Section 7(2) of the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953, under which they can be fined up to RM5,000 or be jailed for up to six months if found guilty. But recent cases suggest that some who were charged under the act have gotten away with very light sentences. In 2012, three men in their 40s were fined only RM500 in default a month's jail each by a magistrates' court after they pleaded guilty to an illegal gambling charge.