A lieutenant commander of the Trincomalee Navy Camp and four foreign agents have been arrested by the Matara Police today over their alleged involvement in a large-scale human smuggling racket.
A senior advisor to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Christopher Wood, responsible for conducting the investigations regarding the scam visited the Matara Police to see the suspects.
Police said the Australian Police officer was involved in investigations in Bangladesh and the Maldives as well.
The lieutenant commander, who was apparently serving in a boat belonging to the Navy, was asked to appear at the Special Investigation Unit of the Matara Police for questioning, where he was arrested, police said.
So far, 22 suspects have been arrested in connection with the racket and amongst them there are three sailors.
According to the police, the suspects have demanded a down payment of Rs 200,000 from prospective illegal migrants from Trincomalee and Jaffna and on the day they board the boat to Australia, each person had to pay Rs 800,000 to the smugglers.
The suspects were produced before the Matara Magistrate and the police took steps to obtain orders to remand the suspects.
Investigations are being carried out by Matara Police Crime OIC Chief Inspector, Dhammika Hapugoda, on the instruction of SSP Deshabandu Tennakoon and Southern Province DIG, McCarthy Perera.
Navy Spokesperson, Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya, confirmed that an officer attached to the Navy has been arrested on suspicion of being involved in a human smuggling racket. (Ceylon Today Online)