Suspected people smugglers arrested in AFP raids
AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have arrested five people-smuggling suspects during raids across four states.
In a strategic strike, police attached to Operation Delphinium executed search warrants in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.
Police allege the men were responsible for a range of people-smuggling activities and were key members of people-smuggling syndicates involved in the planning or facilitation of up to 132 vessels bound for Australia.
A 21-year-old Iranian national, a 36-year-old Pakistani national and three Afghan nationals, aged 40, 34 and 33, were charged with people-smuggling offences and were expected to appear in their state courts on Thursday.
The arrests, which stemmed from seven people-smuggling investigations, were the culmination of 12 months of high-tempo operational activity targeting people-smuggling organisers with domestic and international links.
It brought to 26 the number of alleged people-smuggling organisers charged by the AFP in Australia since 2009.
AFP national manager crime operations Steve Lancaster said the co-operation of witnesses was critical to the success of the operation.
More than 200 community members provided police with information leading to the arrests.
"This operation against people smugglers is a prime example of the AFP's commitment to disrupt and deter organised people smuggling syndicates in Australia and offshore," Assistant Commissioner Lancaster said.
And he had a warning for suspected people smugglers not arrested in the "first scoop", vowing it was "not the end".
"I guarantee there will be further arrests made," he said.