For his role in a foreign trucker
smuggling ring, Australian Philip Ruston received five years' probation
in exchange for his cooperation with federal prosecutors, according to the
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was released into the custody of immigration
In October 1999, a federal grand jury
indicted Ruston and nine others, including Ruston's father, Peter Ruston,
Hoani Harawira of New Zealand and Anthony Kurr of Australia, for recruiting
drivers from Australia and New Zealand and illegally bringing them into the
United States. The original indictments included 125 counts of racketeering,
conspiracy to launder money, visa fraud, alien smuggling and alien harboring,
but charges were dismissed on all but one or two counts for the younger Ruston
and four others who pleaded guilty and cooperated in the investigation.
The indictments resulted from a year-long
investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, State Department, Internal Revenue
Service, Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol, the Australian
Federal Police and Victoria State Police in Australia.Investigators say the
elder Ruston, through a company called Trek Group, contracted with Arkansas
trucking companies to hire drivers from Australia and New Zealand. He apparently
told companies these foreign drivers could live and work in the United States.
Harawira recruited drivers in New Zealand, while Kurr recruited Australian
drivers. Both admit they instructed drivers to lie on visa applications. The
government estimates the 10 defendants made $14.6 million with most of the
money coming from American trucking companies.