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Spanish couple arrested for human smuggling

2015/07/03 20:03:01

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) The National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Friday that a Spanish couple who allegedly tried to smuggle two young Sri Lankans out of Taiwan to Canada were arrested on Thursday.

The suspects were arrested at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport when they attempted to flee the country after coming under investigation following the arrest of the Sri Lankans on June 28, NIA officials said.

The trail to the Spaniards began when the Sri Lankans -- an 18-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman -- pretended to be transit passengers en route to Vancouver with fake Indian passports and Canadian visas, officials said.

Immigration officials saw through them because the two Sri Lankans "looked confused and relatively young" among a group of about 30 Indian transit passengers preparing to take the same flight, according to the NIA.

After the Sri Lankans were arrested, immigration officials concluded from airport surveillance footage and information from representatives of foreign countries that human smugglers were involved in the attempt to get the Sri Lankans to Canada.

The immigration agency expanded the investigation and after collecting evidence it asked Taoyuan prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for the two Spaniards.

Before the suspects could be tracked down, they showed up at the airport hoping to flee but instead were taken into custody and handed over to Taoyuan prosecutors for suspected violations of the Immigration Act.

The prosecutors decided not to prosecute the two Sri Lankans after finding that they were traveling based on arrangements made by their family members and knew very little about the smuggling operation, the NIA said.

The Sri Lankans were deported from Taiwan on Friday morning.

(By Chiu Chun-chin and Lee Hsin-Yin)