New Zealand border security breaks up people smuggling operationMay 4, 11:42 am
Wellington, May 4 (Xinhua-ANI): Three Chinese victims of a people smuggling ring have been sent home after New Zealand immigration officials identified a Malaysian people trafficker, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announced Friday.
INZ staff profiling flights out of Buenos Aires were alerted that four purported Malaysian nationals had been refused entry into Argentina and were being returned home to Malaysia via Auckland, said a statement from INZ. Border operations manager Karen Urwin said all four passengers were intercepted by immigration officers in the transit area of Auckland Airport.
"The officers noted that their accents were inconsistent and that the names in their Malaysian passports did not match their ethnicity," she said in the statement. All four passengers were removed from the transit area and interviewed by immigration officers. Their passports were seized and it was found that three of the four passports were false, she said.
Under questioning, three of the passengers admitted they were actually nationals of China and had to pay the fourth passenger money to be smuggled to South America via New Zealand. The three Chinese nationals were returned to China late Thursday after a search by Customs found their genuine Chinese passports in their baggage.
The alleged people smuggler was a Malaysian citizen who was traveling on a genuine Malaysian passport, said the statement. He was being held at the airport and would be returned to Malaysia, where officials had been briefed of the situation. He could not be prosecuted under New Zealand law as he and the other passengers were not attempting to enter the country, said the statement.
"While New Zealand was not the target of the smuggling this time it could be a different story next time," said Urwin. INZ was working with agencies in other countries to identify other passengers who could previously have been smuggled by the Malaysian national. (ANI)
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