JAKARTA, May 29, 2007 (AFP) – Two Sri Lankans and an Indonesian have been arrested in Jakarta for allegedly running a people smuggling operation to Australia, a senior police officer said Tuesday. The three are suspected of organising an operation earlier this year that saw the Australian navy intercept a boat with 83 Sri Lankans in its northern waters en route from Indonesia, the officer said.

“(Police) arrested an Indonesian national and two Sri Lankans in the case of people smuggling,” police said in a statement.

“On them we found two counterfeit passports, 520 million rupiah (58,000 dollars) and 1,003 dollars in cash and 234 credit cards,” transnational security senior commissioner Bachtiar Hasanuddin Tambunan said.

Tambunan said they had received between 100 to 150 million rupiah from each of the Sri Lankans for the February attempt to reach Australia.

Australia has transferred the asylum seekers to the Pacific island of Nauru, in an extension of the government’s controversial “Pacific Solution” for unwanted migrants. Indonesia has said the group, who were sent to a detention centre on Nauru, would be sent back to Sri Lanka if Australia decided to return them to Indonesia.

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