Trawler used for human trafficking seized

The multi-day fishing trawler which was to be used to take 22 asylum seekers was taken into custody by the Sri Lanka Navy this morning off the seas of Hambantota.

Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya said that four crew members were also taken into custody during the raid undertaken by a naval patrol team at around 2.00am.

The owner of the trawler has gone into hiding and a joint operation is underway together with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to arrest him.

The 14 asylum seekers who were planning to flee to Australia along with the eight supporters were arrested while in a guest house in the Rekawa area in Tangalle by the CID together with the Navy.

The mastermind behind the attempt is yet to be taken into custody. The suspects include the 14 asylum seekers and eight suspects including the owner of the guest house.

They are residents of Jaffna, Udappuwa, Chilaw and Negombo. The raid was carried out by the CID with the assistance of the Navy on Saturday while planning to leave from the Rekawa harbour.

Out of the 14 asylum seekers 13 of them are Tamil nationals. During the recent years the Navy has foiled several illegal human smuggling attempts targeting Australia as destination. (Supun Dias)

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