Husband and wife suspected of attempting to smuggle nine into NZ
A group of nine Malaysian women, who Immigration New Zealand believes were being smuggled into the country by a husband and wife team, have been denied entry. The women were all stopped before boarding a plane from Kuala Lumpur on Friday, following the wife’s detention at the Malaysian airport the day before.
The interception is the largest offload Immigration New Zealand has been aware of, according to officials. Last week, three people and a man suspected of trying to smuggle them through the country to South America were also sent home from Auckland Airport.
Immigration New Zealand interviewed the nine women stopped on Friday by phone, and eventually decided to deny them entry into the country as their stories did not add up. According to Karen Urwin, New Zealand’s border operations manager, the group claimed to be school friends after first saying they were on a group tour. She also claimed they did not know each others’ names, how their tickets were paid for or who had purchased them.
Urwin explained that the wife was initially stopped as she was suspected of being involved in previous people smuggling activities for had an international alert on her name. After the woman’s husband continued with his journey to New Zealand despite his wife’s predicament, suspicions were raised even further.
Urwin explained that although they did not have enough evidence to stop the husband from flying into the country, he was questioned by officials when he arrived at Christchurch Airport. She told the New Zealand Herald that the man became very agitated and said he had a tour group coming the next day.
Urwin said that the sting showed the importance of collaboration with immigration staff across borders. She added that although the husband and wife will not be charged, they will need to satisfy immigration if they want to travel to the country again.
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