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Romanian group stopped from flying to New Zealand

Wednesday 5 September 2012, 5:49PM

By Department of Labour

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A group of seven Romanians have been prevented from flying to New Zealand yesterday after suspicions were raised by immigration New Zealand (INZ) about their intentions.

Two of the group – a husband and wife – were already known to INZ as they had been prevented from travelling to New Zealand three years ago as part of a larger group. On this occasion the group of seven were profiled by INZ and with the assistance of the airline they were prevented from boarding a plane and questioned by staff based in Immigration’s 24/7 operations centre at Auckland Airport.

As a result of this interaction and following further enquiries undertaken it came to light that the couple and a number of others in the group stopped yesterday were convicted in the United States for organised theft and subsequently deported from that country.

INZ Border Operations Manager Karen Urwin says the group claimed they were planning to stay in Auckland for five days because it was a beautiful time of year to visit New Zealand. “It is our view that the group are likely to be part of a criminal gang who had intended to come to New Zealand to commit crime,” Ms Urwin says. “By preventing their travel to New Zealand we have managed to disrupt the gang’s activities and make it less likely that they will be able to target New Zealand again.

“The husband initially said he had never been convicted of any offence apart from a drink driving conviction in Romania and had never been deported from another country,” she says. “But he was then advised we had information about his convictions in the United States. It was also explained to him that he was told back in 2009 when he and his wife were offloaded from another flight to New Zealand that he needed to apply for a visa to enter New Zealand again.”

“This is an excellent example of the important work Immigration New Zealand does at the border and shows how crucial it is that we work with our international partners to protect the integrity of our border.”

Earlier this year a group of nine Malaysian women were denied boarding on a flight to New Zealand in what is believed to be INZ’s largest ever single offload.