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Indonesia nabs Lankan ringleaders for people smuggling

Duo had forged passports, cash and credit cards:

INDONESIA: Two Sri Lankans have been arrested in the Indonesian capital for allegedly running a people smuggling operation to Australia, a senior police officer said yesterday.

The pair are suspected of organising a foiled operation earlier this year when the Australian navy intercepted a boat load of 83 Sri Lankans in its northern waters en route from Indonesia, the officer said.

“On them we found two counterfeit passports, 520 million rupiah (58,000 dollars) and 1,003 dollars in cash and 234 credit cards,” transnational security senior commissioner Bachtiar Hasanuddin Tambunanhe said, without explaining who owned the credit cards.

The pair are in detention after their May 7 arrest at a house in Jakarta.

Tambunan said the pair had received between 100 to 150 million rupiah from each of the 83 Sri Lankans for the February attempt to reach Australia.

He said the route was from Jakarta to the tip of southern Sumatra island where they boarded a wooden boat operated by two Indonesians, which headed south before being intercepted off Australia’s Christmas Island.

Australia has transferred the asylum seekers to the Pacific island of Nauru, in an extension of the Government’s controversial “Pacific Solution” for unwanted migrants.

Indonesia has said the group, who were sent to a detention centre on Nauru, would be sent back to Sri Lanka if Australia decided to return them to Indonesia.

Jakarta, Tuesday, AFP

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