A fake passport and visa ring busted in India could have
helped illegal aliens sneak into New Zealand, authorities
Forgers had made visas for nearly 150 countries and illegally
sent more than 100 people to Europe, Britain, the US, Canada,
Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, police have told
The Hindu newspaper.
A tip-off to police earlier this month led a special central
crime branch unit to two Sri lankan nationals they believed
had been running a "thriving" fake passport and visa racket
for the last four years.
Officers then raided the forgery headquarters in Chennai, The
Hindu reports, where they seized seals of visas for 150
countries, as well as 110 passports including fake and
invalid Indian and Sri Lankan ones.
Police say the scheme involved "procuring invalid Indian
passports" for around NZ$60 and printing fake visas on them.
The Hindu says police fear the gang may have been helped by
some immigration authority insiders.
Four people were arrested on Sunday and remanded in custody
at Chennai's Puzhal prison.
Yesterday, a US State Department report was released which
claimed New Zealand is a "destination country" for foreign
men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
The department's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report has also
labelled New Zealand as a source country for children
subjected to sex trafficking within the country.
Foreign men from Indonesia aboard foreign-flagged fishing
vessels in New Zealand territorial waters were also subjected
to forced labor, debt bondage, confiscation of passports,
imposition of significant debts, poor living and working
conditions, and physical and sexual abuse, the report stated.
While New Zealand's Government fully complied with the
minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the
report criticised the Government for not prosecuting any
trafficking offenders in the last eight years.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said new legislation
was in the pipeline to enable further action to be taken
"should evidence of trafficking emerge".
"Although all notified allegations of trafficking are
investigated, there have been no substantiated cases of
"However, we remain alert to the possibility."
- By Kurt Bayer of APNZ