Three men pleaded not guilty to a raft of charges relating to people trafficking when they appeared in the Nelson District Court today.
The men, Jaswinder Singh Sangha, 53, Satnam Singh, 52, and a third man who has interim name suppression are the first to face such charges in New Zealand.
Two of the men, who jointly face 11 charges, were arrested in Motueka last Friday.
A third Auckland-based man, who faces 36 charges - who did not appear in court - was arrested in Auckland last Thursday.
Judge Tony Zohrab today gave all the victims interim name suppression.
He remanded the men on bail on the condition they surrender their passports and not apply to travel. They are to appear in the Nelson District Court again on November 5.
The trio have been charged under the Crimes Act 1961 for arranging by deception the entry of 18 Indian nationals into New Zealand.
At the time of the men's arrests, Immigration New Zealand's assistant general manager, Peter Devoy, said the prosecution sent a strong message that other cases would be thoroughly investigated.
INZ said the victims were horticultural workers, some of whom remained in the country, while others were in India.
- The Nelson Mail