Five held in largest Australian people-smuggling raids
SYDNEY (AFP) - Five men from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan have been arrested and accused of facilitating the passage of up to 132 asylum-seekers boats in Australia's largest-ever people-smuggling sting, police said on Thursday.
The men - an Iranian, 21, a Pakistani national, 46, and three Afghans aged 40, 34 and 33 - were detained in a major nationwide operation culminating 12 months of work and seven separate probes into 132 voyages.
Hundreds of asylum-seekers have died making the perilous voyage to Australia in recent years on rickety, overloaded boats, mostly from Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Four of the men, described by police as "key" syndicate members, came to Australia on smuggling boats themselves between May 2012 and July 2013.