Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Coast guard nabs Chinese betel nut smugglers

CNA , TAIPEI

Two Chinese fishermen were arrested for smuggling Taiwan betel nut to China, coast guard officials on the outlying island of Kinmen reported yesterday.

Tipped off recently that underground transactions across the Taiwan Strait are rampant, the coast guard sent a cutter to step up patrols over the past days.

Coast guard officials spotted the Chinese fishing vessel headed toward China Sunday night after it had received "the cargo" from a Kinmen fishing vessel.

The officials intercepted the Chinese ship and found on board 780kg of betel nut, 80kg of unripe piper linn fruit and 15kg of betel nut leaves of piper linn with a total market value of more than NT$500,000 (US$14,705).

The vessel's captain, identified as Wang Jianhua (王建華), and fisherman Wang Jiatai (王加泰), who both come from Xiamen, Fujian Province, were sent to the Kinmen Prosecutor's Office for violation of anti-smuggling regulations and the statute governing the relations between the people across the Taiwan Strait.

Wang Jiatai said that he was paid 100 yuan (about NT$4,110) for shipping the goods, claiming he risked being arrested because his family needs the money.

The Kinmen coast guard intercepted 12,000kg of betel nut being smuggled to Kinmen from China in mid-June. But this time, they seized Taiwan betel nuts.

Taiwan betel nuts are more expensive, but they are considered to be of higher quality and are therefore favored by Taiwan businesspeople operating in China, the officials said.

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