People smugglers disappear amid crackdown
By Ian Timberlake IN JAKARTA
The Straits Times
17 November 2001

They may have gone to ground in the light of recent setbacks but the ringleaders are not giving up

THE deaths of hundreds of asylum seekers last month and an Australian clampdown on refugee boats have driven people smugglers further underground while they seek new ways of getting their human cargo into Australia, refugees say.

The smugglers' agents had left Indonesia because the police were looking for them, according to Mr Mohammad Niaz, 27, an Afghan asylum seeker who has been forced to stay in Kupang since the Australian navy chased his boat from Australian waters in October.

The smugglers were no longer answering their telephones, he said.

Earlier this month, police arrested Abu Quassey, who is alleged to have organised the boat that s