Muscat: The police last week foiled an attempt by traffickers to smuggle 26 Asians into Oman from an undisclosed neighbouring country.
According to Royal Oman Police, two four-wheel-drive vehicles were overloaded with people and passing through Yanqul Wilayat in Dhahirah region. The police petrol chased the two vehicles and stopped it to discover 26 infiltrators ‘packed like sardines’ in the vehicles.
“The petrol summoned more police force and took all 26 into custody,” Hamoud Al Zaidi, spokesperson for the ROP’s Public Relations Department said, adding that some were Pakistani nationals while the others were from Bangladesh. Both the vehicles were also seized.
According to him the infiltrators had all come from a neighbouring Gulf state but he refused to disclose the country.
“Some of them even held documents issued from the neighbouring state, and had crossed the border on foot, following valleys and mountainous roads,” he added.
Human traffickers bring gullible poor people from Asian countries on promise of jobs and drop them off along the coast of Oman and Iran.
These traffickers also use Iran as well as some of the Gulf states, including Oman, as a transit point to traffic these people to Greece, Turkey and other European countries.
According to the Pakistan Thematic Group on Human Trafficking (PTGHT), the coastline between Karachi and Gwadar is frequently used for human trafficking to Gulf states. They say that clients are taken by road to the Iran border, from where they are picked up and transported to Oman by ships.
Over 40,000 illegal Pakistani immigrants were sent back between 2002 and 2007.
The modus operandi of human trafficking involves sending illegal immigrants across to Iran on foot or by vehicles and from Iranian ports in small dhows and boats to the Gulf region.
A former Iranian envoy to Oman had told Gulf News in 2008 that Iranian ports were being used to send illegal migrants from Pakistan to the other countries in the Gulf region.
Oman, Iran and Pakistan have been working together to counter this menace of human trafficking but the traffickers take advantage of the long coastline and the Sultanate’s mountainous region to send in infiltrators by sea route or on foot across mountains.