Australian Federal Police (AFP) arrested three people in relation to trafficking and exploitation of four Filipino nationals on Thursday. According to AFP in a press release, the arrested include two men from Green Valley, NSW, aged 59 and 33. The third person arrested for this case is a Green Valley woman, aged 34.
Police said the three facilitated the arrival of four men from Philippines on a sporting visa. Once they were in Australia, the four men were forced into a "debt-bondage situation" and exploited for their labour.
All the three accused where presented before the Sydney Central Local Court on Thursday.
The police charged the accused with four counts of human trafficking and exploitation, based on s271.2 (1B) of the Criminal Code 1995.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment, the press release said.
The AFP began investigation in the case after being referred to by Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) regarding four Filipino nationals who were allegedly trafficked into Australia.
The police found out that the three accused took the four Filipino nationals who are "involved in the boxing industry" in the premise of making a boxing career in Sydney.
There the Aussie captors informed the four Filipino nationals that they "owed a debt for their travel to Australia". The four men were then "housed in poor-quality accommodation, provided with sub-standard meals, and forced into unpaid domestic labour."
The police also said that the movement of the four Filipinos was also restricted by their captors.
It is after a protracted investigation and liaison with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions that the AFP Human Trafficking team arrested the three accused. The police also seized evidence in the case, the release said.
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," she added.
To contact the editor, e-mail: