Wed, Mar 21, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Coast guard arrests human-trafficking suspects

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

A Coast Guard Administration agent watches over a Vietnamese illegal immigrant on a pebble beach in Taitung County’s Daren Township on Monday after giving her a uniform jacket for warmth.

Photo: copied by Chen Hsien-i, Taipei Times

Coast Guard Administration (CGA) officials yesterday said they have arrested 31 foreigners in a suspected human-trafficking operation that resulted in two drowning deaths.

CGA units and local police cooperated in the arrest of 15 foreigners near the coastal village of Nantian (南田) in Taitung County’s Daren Township (達仁).

“All 15 foreigners arrested yesterday [Monday] were Vietnamese, except for one woman from China. We believe they are all part of the same human-trafficking ring operated by a Taiwanese ship, which tried to land them along the Taitung coast so they could enter the country illegally,” said Li chih-hao (李智豪), a section chief at the agency’s Eastern Coastal Patrol Office.

The agency said it picked up a speedboat heading toward Taitung on radar at about 2am on Monday, and a patrol team was dispatched to investigate.

The speedboat headed to a spot about 2 nautical miles (3.7km) from the shore of Nantian Village, where a Taiwanese man told the foreigners to get into a rubber dinghy and to row the rest of the way to the shore, the agency said.

The dinghy capsized in high waves and six occupants fell into the water. The CGA patrol tried to rescue two of those who fell into the water — a Vietnamese man and woman — and rushed them to hospital, but the two were later pronounced dead.

The other four — two Vietnamese women, a Vietnamese man and a Taiwanese man — made it to land, where they were arrested by coast guard agents.

The Taiwanese man is likely a crew member of the Kaohsiung-registered Jin Chun Cai (金春財), which is suspected of being engaged in human trafficking, the agency said.

The agency said it boarded the vessel, where they found 16 Vietnamese nationals and six Taiwanese crew members.

It said that all the foreign nationals and Taiwanese crew have been detained for questioning, while public prosecutors in Taitung and Kaohsiung conduct an investigation.

CGA units in Kaohsiung yesterday confirmed they had arrested the captain of the Jin Chun Cai, a 64-year-old man surnamed Wang (王), and five crew — three Taiwanese and two foreign workers.

When questioned, Wang said he had nothing to do with the two drowning deaths.

However, agency officials said Wang has a reputation as a “snakehead” among local fishermen and has allegedly colluded with Chinese to smuggle foreigners into Taiwan in the past.

Dawu Police Precinct spokesman Tsai Ching-liang (蔡清良) said the Vietnamese intended to work in Taiwan illegally, because they wanted to avoid paying high labor broker fees.

Many foreign recruitment companies make high profits by charging additional fees on top of the government-sanctioned fees.

Migrant workers have complained of having to pay as much as their entire year’s salary to labor brokers.

In August last year, the Ministry of Labor raised the minimum monthly wage for migrant workers from NT$21,009 to NT$22,000, or NT$264,000 a year.

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