Thai, Australia police bust human trafficking ring

 

Iraqi national Raihan Ashour Oraibi Alfatlawi sits behind false passports he had possessed as he is presented to the media at Thai Immigration headquarter in Bangkok, Thailand, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Thai police arrested Alfatlawi and a Thai woman on Tuesday, while Australian police announced the arrest of four men in Sydney and Melbourne in a multination operation against human trafficking networks.

Police in Thailand and Australia arrested six people Tuesday as part of a yearlong, multination operation against human trafficking networks.

Thai police said they arrested an Iraqi man and a Thai woman in Bangkok, while Australian police arrested four men in Sydney and Melbourne.

Thai police Lt. Gen. Wiboon Bangthamai said the arrests were part of “Operation Arapaima,” a yearlong effort to crack down on human trafficking networks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia, the smuggling destination.

Although participating in the police operation, no arrests were made in Malaysia or Indonesia. Australian police said the operation was continuing.

Australia has long attracted asylum seekers hoping to start a new life, with thousands arriving by boat in recent years. Most are from war-ravaged nations such as Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran or Iraq, and use Malaysia or Indonesia as a starting point for a sea journey to Australia.

In Thailand, the Iraqi man, Raihan Ashour Oraibi Alfatlawi, 39, and the Thai woman, Sunida Sokul, 36, were arrested on charges of passport forgery, Wiboon said.

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