WELLINGTON: Two men who allegedly helped 18 Indian nationals deceive their way into New Zealand appeared in court Thursday to face New Zealand’s first-ever people trafficking charges, said immigration officials.
Police arrested the men in the Motueka area, at the top of the South Island, early Thursday and they appeared in the Nelson District Court, where they entered no pleas and were bailed until Sept. 4, said a statement from the government’s Immigration New Zealand (INZ) agency. They were charged with arranging by deception the entry of 18 Indian nationals into New Zealand. People trafficking can carry penalties of up to 20 years in jail, a fine of 500,000 NZ dollars (419,463 US dollars) or both.
One of the men was also charged, along with a third defendant who was arrested in Auckland Thursday, with organizing and lodging false refugee claims for the 18 Indian nationals once they arrived in New Zealand. That offense can carry a penalty of up to seven years in jail, or a fine of up to 100,000 NZ dollars (83,893 US dollars) or both. The third defendant has been bailed to appear at the Nelson District Court on Sept 4. INZ assistant general manager for compliance and border operations, Peter Devoy, said the prosecution was an extremely significant development.
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