Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Illegal Chinese migrants linked to kidnapping gang

STAFF WRITER , WITH AFP

A suspected kidnapper was shot and wounded before dawn yesterday as police raided an apartment in Taipei County in the hunt for a gang who kidnapped the owner of an air-conditioner factory, police said.

The wounded man was one of five illegal immigrants from China who allegedly had kidnapped the businessman last Wednesday. The five suspects used to work for the victim, surnamed Chen (陳), in his factory in Lujhou, Taipei County.

After the raid, police combed the Tuzihkeng area of Gueishan Township, Taoyuan County, with the wounded suspect in tow in search of Chen. They found him frightened but unharmed.

Police arrested two women reportedly connected to kidnappers after Chen's family failed to pay a ransom last Friday.

Chen's wife was supposed to drop off a ransom of NT$6 million (US$185,185) at a specified time on a southbound train from Banciao. But the crowded train compartment made it impossible for Chen's wife to deliver the money.

The kidnappers set up a second drop for yesterday morning, by which time police had a line on the gang. They raided an apartment in Sinjhuang, Taipei County, where they shot a man who later identified himself as Zheng Xiaowen (鄭小文), 33. Zheng's identity has yet to be verified.

Another man, Chen Qiang (陳強), 38, was arrested during a separate pre-dawn raid in Jhungho, Taipei County.

The suspects in custody have identified three other illegal Chi-nese immigrants from Fuqing County, Fujian Province as being involved in the kidnapping, but the trio's current whereabouts are not known.

The reported mastermind behind the kidnapping, Ah Li (阿利), is still at large and police have distributed photos of him.

He is believed to be the agent who brought the others into the country and later introduced them into Chen's factory.

"This was the first ever reported kidnapping case implicating a gang of illegal Chinese immigrants," said Taipei County Bureau Commissioner Huang Mao-sui (黃茂穗).

It is believed that disputes over inadequate salaries, aggravated by a commission exacted by Ah Li for finding work for the men, gave rise to the kidnap plot.

Some 1,700 Chinese illegal immigrants were seized between January and last month but it was believed many more were successful in reaching this country.

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