Police in the tiny island nation of Grenada have arrested the seven Nepali students who had been reported missing from St Lucia since April 17, reports coming out of various Caribbean media outlets suggest.
The detained Nepalis had originally arrived in St Lucia, another island nation not far from Grenada, to study what they believed to be a legitimate hospitality course. But upon its arrival there, the group was told by local authorities that they had actually been duped by an international racket. The group includes a 20 year old female.
The Royal Grenada Police indicated they had the Nepali nationals under their detention but declined to provide detailed information as it was already 11.26 pm local time in Grenada when southasia.com.au made the telephone contact.
The seven Nepalis were reported missing in St Lucia after they failed to attend a ‘party’ on April 17. Dipak Sapkota, Chandra Bahadur Thapa, Ankit Dhakal, Pradip Adhikari, Dipak Bhujel, Arjun Sharma Kafle and Numkala Tiwari are in the group. It is believed all are under 23 years of age except one victim who is 32.
Jamaican Observer said the victims accepted offer of a course at St. Lucia-based Lambirds Academy in ‘hospitality, cruise and business management’ and ‘they each paid $US9, 000 for the courses and $US13,000 to get to St Lucia’. The Academy has since been established as the operation of a well-organised international human trafficking network.
According to the website of St Lucia Times, four men charged with the scam were denied bail on two previous occasions and the next court hearing is on April 24. Koushal Kumar, Batukbhai Chadasama, Ashwin Kanji Patel, Gurjeet Singh Vilkhu and Iftekhar Ahmed Shams (the Academy’s principal) have been charged with ‘human trafficking in connection with an alleged internet scam’. The website does not specify the nationalities of the accused but mentions, “The men are reportedly from India and Bangladesh but live in St. Lucia.”
Before they fled to Grenada, the seven students were being looked after by the St Lucian government but local media reported the Nepali students as complaining about grossly insufficient supply of ration. Moreover, they were reported to have been ‘low on money’.
Nepal’s popular news website, ekantipur.com, had reported in early March that as many as 70 Nepalis were ‘smuggled’ into St Lucia through ‘made-up’ enrollments. It said 10 Nepali consultancies in Kathmandu, Biratnagar and Bharatpur had sent the students for enrollments at the now-defunct Lambirds Academy.
It was not only Nepali students that the bogus organisation preyed upon, its list of victims include students from India and the Philippines. Many of these victims apparently remain in St Lucia while others have been repatriated to their country of origin with assistance from the United Nations International Organisation of Migration.
According to ekantipur.com, following Nepali agents are involved in the Lambirds scam:
- Excellent Int’l Educational Institute
- Kathmandu Multiconsult
- Learn Care Educational Consultancy
- Perception Consultancy
- Progressive Learning Centre and Engineering Concern
- Significant Education Consultancy
- Toppers Academy Foundation
- Euro Immigration
- Visa Abroad Consultancy
- Black Grain Solution Pvt Ltd