Five Chinese men have been arrested in Christchurch for their alleged role in an international people smuggling and visa fraud ring.
The five accused appeared in the Christchurch District Court today on various charges relating to allegedly obtaining Australian visas to allow other individuals to travel from China to Australia, Detective Inspector Tom Fitzgerald said.
The men face charges of immigration fraud, dishonestly using a document and making a false statement, and charges relating to people smuggling and being a party to people smuggling.
Between 2007 and 2010, 17 fraudulent Australian visa applications were made by the two main offenders, Mr Fitzgerald said.
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"The principals have now been arrested, along with associates and other people who were involved in the operation.
"We believe all have been part of an organised criminal group which has been operating for some time.''
The offending was first brought to the attention of New Zealand authorities by the Australian High Commission early last year.
Immigration New Zealand Intelligence, Risk and Integrity general manager Peter Elms said that people smuggling and fraud were taken very seriously.
"People smuggling is an international crime that strikes at the heart of border security. We will continue to work with the police and our international partners to bring those involved to justice.''