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Fiji Time: 6:16 AM on Tuesday 23 September

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Girl cargo

Nanise Loanakadavu
Friday, October 05, 2012

A YACHT suspected of being involved in human trafficking and sex trade is in the custody of maritime authorities.

Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji seized the yacht near Malake Island in Rakiraki, close to where three sisters disappeared in 2005.

FMSAF standard and compliance manager John Tunidau confirmed this yesterday. Although details of the owner and the name of the yacht was not released, Mr Tunidau said the yacht was under the watchful eyes of port security.

He said an 18-year-old Fijian girl of Indian descent, believed to be the fourth victim involved in the alleged criminal activity, was taken into custody.

He said they managed to ascertain that the girl was to be taken away to another country and that it was by miracle that they managed to save her.

He said items and materials that were confiscated from the yacht implicated the owner's involvement in alleged criminal activities.

"We have confiscated everything from the yacht and the girl is in police custody," Mr Tunidau said.

He said the incident had prompted FMSAF and border security to tighten their operation in the Fiji waters.

"It's sad to say that these activities are happening in Fiji. This is the first time we have come across this type of activity and we know that there are a lot more of this nature happening in our waters."

He said they hoped to speed up their operation once their boats arrived from overseas.

"That's our problem. We do not have enough boats to conduct more operations, not only involving super yachts, but other vessels in our waters," he added.

When contacted last night, Police spokesperson, Ana Naisoro said Divisional Police Commander West, Salacieli Naivilawasa was on police deployment training and not available to release any information on the investigation.

Police, she said, were investigating.


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