Suspected people smuggler caught
Border officials at Auckland International Airport played their part in sending home a suspected people smuggler and three people he was trying to smuggle into South America via New Zealand.
Immigration New Zealand staff profiling flights out of Buenos Aires were tipped off to four purported Malaysian nationals who had been refused entry into Argentina and were being returned home via Auckland.
The group were intercepted in the transit area of Auckland airport and officials found three of their four passports were fake.
''The officers noted that their accents were inconsistent and that the names in their Malaysian passports did not match their ethnicity,'' Border Operations manager, Karen Urwin said.
She said three of the passengers confessed they were in fact from China and had paid the fourth passenger to be smuggled into South America.
The three Chinese nationals were returned home last night.
The alleged people smuggler will be returned to Malaysia.
He could not be prosecuted under New Zealand law as he and the other passengers were not attempting to enter New Zealand.
''The result of this operation is a testament to the fantastic job carried out by our immigration staff in close consultation with Customs officers at the border every day,'' Urwin said.
''While New Zealand was not the target of the smuggling this time it could be a different story next time.''
New Zealand immigration officials are working with other jurisdictions to work out if the alleged people smuggler has attempted to help people get into other countries.