China arrests 42 illegal Vietnamese immigrants and smugglers, busting syndicate

By SCMP/Clifford Lo   June 4, 2016 | 10:23 am GMT+7
In cross-border operation, Chinese police nab 31 at hideouts in Guangzhou and Shenzhen as local counterparts detain 12 after raids.

A human-smuggling syndicate that allegedly brought Vietnamese illegal immigrants into Hong Kong has been broken up after China and local law enforcers arrested 42 people, police said yesterday.

But the gang was just the tip of the iceberg as investigations indicated several other rackets that smuggle non-Chinese illegal immigrants such as Pakistanis and Indians from their home countries into the city were still in operation, the Post has learned.

“Intelligence has revealed other syndicates have lain low to evade arrest as mainland and Hong Kong authorities have enhanced enforcement action,” a source with knowledge of the investigation said.

The force’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau has been tasked to investigate the on-going people-smuggling syndicates.


Vietnamese and Pakistanis arrested by Chinese police in March 2016. Photo by SCMP

Police said the racket that brought Vietnamese illegal immigrants into the city had been under police investigation with the help of Guangdong police since March.

Initial investigation showed the gang had been in operation for about a year and brought more than 100 Vietnamese illegal immigrants into the city, the Post was told. It offered one-stop service to smuggle them via the mainland and charged them HK$30,000 each.

Investigation showed they were smuggled from Vietnam to Guangxi province by land.

“They were then taken to Shenzhen, where they came to Hong Kong by speedboat,” another source said, adding that a minibus arranged to pick them up and transport them to hideouts.

The source said they were given accommodation and “arrangements for illegal employment” as well as bogus identity cards “to help them find jobs." It was understood most of them gained jobs in construction.

As the syndicate was arranging another round of human-smuggling activities, police from Hong Kong and the mainland swooped into action on Wednesday.

Mainland police arrested 31 individuals in hideouts like guest houses in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

In Hong Kong, police raided more than 20 locations across the city and arrested 11 people. They included nine central figures of the syndicate and two Vietnamese illegal immigrants. Among the core members, five were asylum seekers from Vietnam.

Bureau superintendent Kwan King-pan said the investigation was on-going and that it was possible additional arrests would be made. “The police and Immigration Department will not tolerate any form of such illegal activities,” he said.

Chief immigration officer Lau Wing-kei said average monthly figures of arrested illegal immigrants from Vietnam fell to 112 this year from 189 last year. He attributed the decline to more stringent efforts by local and mainland authorities.

Hong Kong has a backlog of more than 11,000 applications on asylum and torture grounds that have yet to be screened. About 2,500 applications were lodged by Vietnamese illegal immigrants.

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