Sydney:Following targeted raids on the Australian east coast, authorities have arrested 34 Malaysian nationals for working illegally in the agriculture sector.
Following information from the community, authorities on Tuesday raided a labour hire syndicate alleged to be employing illegal foreign workers near Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales mid-north coast, and found 14 nationals were in Australia illegally while 20 others were exploiting their temporary stay visas, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Tuesday's operation sends a strong message to individuals and syndicates involved ... if you are in Australia without a valid visa, if you work in breach of your visa conditions or if you are exploiting foreign workers, you will be caught," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement on Wednesday.
The raids form part of an ongoing multi-agency task force investigating visa fraud and illegal work that resulted in the arrest of three persons and the detention of 95 illegal workers.
Anyone convicted in Australia for facilitating visa fraud and illegal work faces up to 20 years' imprisonment or fines up to Australian dollars 100,000 ($75,985).
Employers involved in the exploitation of foreign workers face civil penalties of $8,207 per breach, while corporations face $41,033 per breach.
All 34 Malaysian nationals are currently being detained in an immigration detention facility awaiting deportation.