Two arrested for smuggling people to Australia for $30,000 each

By Hoang Tao   September 10, 2020 | 04:48 pm PT
Two arrested for smuggling people to Australia for $30,000 each
Phan Van Muoi (L) and Vu Thi Van are held at a police station in Quang Binh Province, central Vietnam, September 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Van.
Police in the central province of Quang Binh detained two people on Thursday for allegedly smuggling 17 Vietnamese citizens to Indonesia before crossing the sea to Australia, charging $15,000-$30,000 each.

Phan Van Muoi, 44, and Vu Thi Van, 40, are being investigated for "organizing for others to flee abroad," police said.

Investigators said the duo established contact with a foreigner only identified as Rosier in Indonesia last March to organize emigration for 17 Vietnamese to Indonesia on tourist visas. In Jakarta, the duo collected $2,000 each as deposit and carried them to Makassar City in Indonesia to travel by boat to Australia.

However, due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of a big boat, six of the 17 gave up the chance of proceeding to Australia and returned home. The remaining agreed to take a small boat to reach Australia, but it broke down and drifted into East Timorese waters, where it was seized.

Investigators said that after taking the 17 Vietnamese citizens to Indonesia, Muoi and Van returned to Vietnam, but didn't reveal details how they were arrested.

Since 2015, Australia has returned 113 Vietnamese nationals from three vessels intercepted at sea, an AFP report says. As of last year, there were more than 260,000 Vietnamese people living in Australia, according to official figures.

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