Media Release: Three arrested for labour trafficking charges

Release Date: Thursday, October 10 2013, 12:44 PM

Australian Federal Police (AFP) members today arrested three Sydney people in relation to alleged labour trafficking and exploitation offences.

A 59-year-old and 33-year-old man from Green Valley, NSW and a 34-year-old Green Valley woman were arrested for allegedly facilitating the arrival of four men from the Philippines into Australia on sporting visas, forcing them into a debt-bondage situation and exploiting their labour.

All three people are set to appear before Sydney Central Local Court today.

The investigation began when the AFP received a referral from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) regarding four Filipino nationals allegedly trafficked into Australia.

It will be alleged at court that the men, who were involved in the boxing industry, were taken to a premises in Sydney after being told they owed a debt for their travel to Australia. They were housed in poor-quality accommodation, provided with sub-standard meals, forced into unpaid domestic labour and had their movements restricted.

Search warrants were conducted in relation to these allegations, resulting in the seizure of numerous items of evidence.

Following a protracted investigation and ongoing liaison with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the AFP Human Trafficking team today executed a search warrant in Green Valley, arresting the three people.

Each person was charged with four counts of trafficking in persons and being reckless as to exploitation, contrary to s271.2 (1B) of the Criminal Code 1995.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 12 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Manager for Crime Operations Jennifer Hurst said these arrests were a significant milestone in a longstanding investigation.

“Investigations into allegations like these can be time consuming, requiring a great deal of effort to thoroughly gather and verify evidence both here and offshore,” Commander Hurst said.

“Our investigators have worked closely with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure the strongest possible case will be presented to the court.

“These four victims thought they were travelling to Australia for a professional boxing career. Instead, it will be alleged that they were exploited and forced to live in a situation that was completely unacceptable.”

“Labour trafficking is a very serious crime, and the AFP continues to work with other agencies to combat trafficking and provide support to victims.”

The AFP’s International Network also provided assistance throughout the investigation. The network is a crucial component of Australian law enforcement’s efforts in combating the growing threat of transnational crime.

It allows Australian law enforcement to more effectively engage with foreign law enforcement in matters of criminal information exchange, investigations and law enforcement development.

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