Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Drug dealers eye foreigners

TARGET MARKET Foreign workers are increasingly being approached by drug dealers to help sell ecstasy, `special K' and other drugs at nightclubs and bars

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreign migrant workers have become a target market for drug dealers, the Taipei City Police Department said in a statement released on Friday.

According to the statement, police last week arrested Chuo Chao-bing (卓昭賓), an alleged drug dealer, in Taoyuan. Chuo implemented a strategy to appeal to foreign migrant workers on their days off, the statement said.

Chuo would reserve time slots at dance clubs during the daytime -- when business was slow -- to offer foreign migrant workers a place to spend their leisure time, according to police. Foreigner migrant workers who were long-time residents of Taiwan were hired to sell admission passes to these dance clubs.

In addition, Chuo employed local people to sell ecstasy and Special K to the foreigners, police said. Lorazepam, a drug used to relieve anxiety, was also sold to the workers, the statement said.

In response to the statement, Ku Yu-ling (顧玉玲), secretary-general of the Taiwan International Workers' Association, said a lack of facilities for foreign migrant workers to spend their leisure time was a problem.

"They gather in train stations and the police chase them off. Where else can they go?" Ku said.

The Taipei City Government used to run a cultural center, which was a popular hang-out spot for foreign migrant workers late last year, but it is now closed.

According to Ku, the root of the problem is Taiwan's guest-worker labor policy, which doesn't take into account the needs of workers outside of working hours.

Without the option of becoming a naturalized citizen or gaining long-term residency in Taiwan, policies to meet the personal needs of foreign migrant workers -- for example for sex or a place to spend leisure time -- cannot be implemented.

"They are not allowed to get pregnant and the curfews set by employers often rule out the possibility of sexual activity," Ku told the Taipei Times over the phone.

Given Taiwan's 15-year history of importing foreign migrant workers, the government's negligence to meet basic needs is disappointing, Ku said.

According to Ku, globally, there are an estimated 100 million migrant workers. The issues and problems associated with migration are worthy of attention, Ku said.

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