Seven face charges for trafficking 41 Vietnamese to China

By Phan Anh   September 11, 2020 | 12:00 am PT
Seven men in northern Lao Cai Province are being probed for having trafficked 41 women and children to China since 2018.

Sung A Cho, 29, Thao Seo Hoa, 44, Chang A Vuong, 33, Thao Seo Ao, 25, Ly Seo Phan, 24, Sung A Tung, 21, and Chang A Lu, 24, are being investigated for "human trafficking" and "trafficking of a person under 16," Nguyen Minh Thang, head of the Lao Cai police, said Thursday.

Cho, married with kids, traveled to China for work in 2015. There, he became acquainted with a fellow compatriot who asked him to help traffic Vietnamese women across the border for money, police news portals reported.

Using stolen police photos as their Facebook profile pictures, the duo subsequently tricked many unsuspecting victims and trafficked them to China with promises of a better future.

The ring later expanded to include the other six men, commencing operations in March 2018 when it first trafficked two 18-year-old girls across the border. One managed to escape back to her family, though the other remains in China.

Between late June to early July this year, police succeeded in arresting Cho, Hoa, Ao, Vuong and Lu. Phan turned himself in in mid-July. Tung was finally caught on August 5.

Seven men arrested for trafficking 41 women from northern Vietnam to China from 2018. Photo courtesy of the police.

Seven men arrested for trafficking 41 women from northern Vietnam to China from 2018. Photo courtesy of the police.

The ring confessed to have trafficked a total 41 women and children from Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Dien Bien, Son La, Lai Chau and Bac Kan, all in Vietnam's northern mountainous region, to China since 2018, earning ¥12,000-20,000 ($1,755-2,925) per victim.

Vietnam recorded over 3,400 victims of human trafficking between 2013 and 2019, over 90 percent of them women, children and people from ethnic minority communities. Eighty percent of victims end up in China, which suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances due to its former one-child policy and illegal abortion of female fetuses by parents who prefer sons. This had lead to increased trafficking of Vietnamese women and baby girls to the country.

In the first half of 2020, Vietnam reported 60 human trafficking cases, with 90 victims, mainly women and children, sold to foreign countries. Traffickers typically persuade their victims to go to foreign countries for part-time work with high bonuses and then subject them to either forced labor and/or prostitution.

Traffickers mainly target women and children in rural and mountainous areas near the border where they live in poverty and get little access to education and social media, activists said.

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