Bogging leads to bust of alleged people smuggling venture
TWO men who got bogged in a remote river crossing in the NT have been charged for their alleged involvement in a people smuggling ring.
On January 24, the men, aged 30 and 31, called Territory cops for help after becoming stuck in a river crossing.
The scene sent up red flags for authorities as the duo claimed to be on a camping trip however only had a carton of water and a small bag between them.
Australian Federal Police then started a six-month investigation into the duo.
They allege the pair were involved in an international people smuggling network, in which potential illegal immigrants attempting to enter Australia would be told they would have to undertake work for a year without income in "debt bondage", to repay the criminal syndicate's costs for their journey.
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Investigations by the AFP led cops to believe the pair were in the NT to act as the "shore party" to meet a potential vessel, believed to be carrying six people from China.
No such vessel reached the Australian mainland.
The two men continued to be the subject of ongoing police inquiries while sufficient evidence was gathered to allow charges to be laid.
Yesterday morning, the men were arrested in their homes in Birmingham Gardens, NSW and Mareeba, QLD.
Search warrants at the properties uncovered visa applications on a computer hard drive, and police also seized mobile phones, computers, and documents.
Both men have been charged with one count each of facilitated the entry of a group of five or more unlawful non-citizens into Australia, contrary to section 233C of the Migration Act 1958.
Inquiries are continuing with overseas authorities through the AFP's International Command in relation to the suspected smuggling network.
Operation Sovereign Borders Major General Craig Furini welcomed the AFP arrest.
"The intercept at sea and subsequent arrest highlights the strength of Australia's inter-agency approach to combating people smuggling," he said.
"Collectively we are committed to protecting Australia's border, combating people smuggling and preventing vulnerable people from losing their lives at sea.
"Since the implementation of OSB in 2013, Australia has returned 873 people from 38 people smuggling ventures to their country of origin or departure."
Originally published as Territory bogging leads to bust of alleged people smuggling venture