COLOMBO (NewsRadio); Authorities of the Réunion Island of France have repatriated 38 Sri Lankans by air.
The Sri Lanka Navy said the group of Sri Lankans was apprehended as they were attempting to migrate to the Réunion Island illegally via sea.
The group had departed from Puttalam on the 14th of December in a multi-day fishing trawler.
The Navy said the multiday fishing trawler had proceeded towards the Diego Garcia Island where they were apprehended and deported by the British Navy on 30th of December.
Subsequently, the smugglers had cruised with the group of illegal immigrants to the French territory, where they were held by authorities of the Réunion Island on the 14th of January.
The Navy said upon being produced to the Réunion Court, the group of illegal immigrants was repatriated to Sri Lanka yesterday.
Among the apprehended persons were 33 males including three from the boat crew and two females who are over 18 years of age and three underage children.
They have been identified as residents of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Batticaloa Puttalam, Negombo and Gampaha.
Meanwhile, the individuals have been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department for further legal proceedings.
The Navy added it has been revealed that the smugglers from Kalpitiya and Kandy, who led this smuggling, charged an amount from Rs. 400,000 rupees to Rs. 1 million from an individual.
The Sri Lanka Navy also urged the public to avoid being victimized by smugglers who undertake such perilous journeys putting the lives of people at risk.