News/NZ: NZ police move to break up people-smuggling ring

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Subject: News/NZ: NZ police move to break up people-smuggling ring
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Apr 13 2000 - 09:37:34 EDT


Yet again, smuggling is being confused with trafficking.

Melanie.....

__________

                 NZ police move to break up people-smuggling ring

  Reuters Ltd.

     AUCKLAND, March 13 (Reuters) - New Zealand police said they detained 10
people on Monday believed to be leaders of a crime syndicate that brought
as many as 1,000 illegal immigrants from Asia and the Middle East to
Australasia with forged passports.
      Detective Sergeant Craig Turley told national media the arrests
followed raids on a dozen locations in New Zealand's largest city Auckland,
and he believed the ringleaders were among those detained.
      Migrants mainly from countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and
Pakistan had pledged to pay up to NZ$30,000 ($15,000) to the gang for visas
and passports to get them into New Zealand or Australia, he told Radio New
Zealand News.
      The syndicate's organisers originally came from the Middle East but
had been using Auckland as a base for several years, Turley added.
      He told reporters many of the migrants ended up remaining in thrall to
the gang once in the region. They were forced into illegal activities run
alongside the passport operation, such as acting as drug couriers in order
to work off their debts.
      He said detaining or pursuing such people was "not part of the brief."
      "We would like to help them to legitimise their living here, rather
than living under an assumed identity, or being in debt to a criminal
organisation that will never let them forget it.
      "That is why we want to help them get out of the mess they are in. We
are prepared to work with any organisation to help with these people,"
Turley said.
      He characterised the organisation broken up in Monday's operation as
one of several exploiting the combined people and drugs trades in the
Pacific region, calling it "one of the largest based here in New Zealand."
      (US$1 - NZ$2)
  REUTERS


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