Friday August 30 2013
– Australian Federal Police have arrested five foreign nationals accused of being “key players” in offshore people-smuggling syndicates, in raids across four states.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Steve Lancaster said three men had been arrested in Australian detention centres. Those men stood accused of organising boats bound for Australia from Indonesia before coming here by boat themselves. Another of the five had also come to Australia by boat.
He said there was no suggestion the men had continued to conduct their people-smuggling operations from Australian detention centres.
Police allege the five men arrested – three Afghans, one Pakistani and one Iranian – had brought up to 132 boats to Australia in the past year. Assistant Commissioner Lancaster was not able to say how many asylum seekers they had brought to Australia.
He said the police operation had been running for about a year, and involved seven separate investigations in Australia and overseas and more than 200 tip-offs.
The five were arrested in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia. Police allege they conducted activities in every state and territory except Tasmania. All five will face court on Friday.
The arrests bring the number arrested for people-smuggling offences since 2009 to 26, with another 750 arrested for people-smuggling offences overseas, mainly in Indonesia, he said.
Assistant Commissioner Lancaster said those arrested, and the information received from the public, related not only to individual people smugglers but to syndicates.
– Bianca Hall