Police yesterday arrested four men suspected of intimidating farmers and wholesale merchants in order to artificially jack up the price of green onions in the wake of Typhoon Haitang.
"The four are Ilan County gangsters Kuo Chung-cheng (
"The four suspects knew Ilan County was one of the few places with a good harvest of green onions after the agricultural damage wrought by Typhoon Haitang," Kuo said.
According to the prosecutor, Kuo, Lu and their lackeys blocked local farmers' trucks in front of the Ilan agricultural wholesale market, and bullied the farmers into selling them all of their green onions.
They even took photographs of farmers and the plate numbers of their trucks to intimidate them, the prosecutor said. When vegetable merchants from other parts of the county went to Ilan to purchase onions after the typhoon, Kuo, Lu Fang-chuan and their gangster henchmen warned them not to try to buy onions directly from farmers, and told them they could only by onions from their accomplices, the merchants Lu Chieh-hong and Chen. The onions were then sold at exorbitant prices via the two merchants.
The spokesman said the four suspects made a cool NT$10 million (US$313,000) from hiking the price of onions. He said the price of green onions skyrocketed to NT$450 per catty (600g) -- 15 times its normal price -- after the typhoon hit because of strong-arm tactics of gangsters such as Kuo.
The prosecutor said it wasn't the first time Kuo and his gouging accomplices had struck: the suspects also drove up the price of green onions during the serious floods last month in southern Taiwan.
Kuo Yung-fa said the four suspects were accused of intimidation and of violating the Fair Trade Law (
The prosecutor said Kuo, 36, who has close connections with local politicians and police, was becoming the top gangster in Ilan County. Investigators could have caught Kuo about a week ago if he hadn't been tipped off that he was a target, the spokesman said. Prosecutors believe local police informed Kuo of the dragnet closing in around him while dining with him a week ago. Kuo fled his residence after that meeting, the spokesman said.
Investigators finally busted him in a riverside factory in Ilan.
The Ministry of Justice has launched a crackdown on the perennial problem of artificial price hikes for fruits and vegetables after natural disasters.
Prosecutors nationwide have been going to agricultural wholesale markets to check the price of agricultural products and to try to prevent gouging.
The Consumers' Foundation last week also appealed to the government to establish a mechanism for emergency fruit and vegetable imports or tariff exemptions for imports to help ensure that merchants do not make artificial profits. The foundation also wants the government to facilitate channels for farmers to sell their produce directly to customers.
The Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday said its earlier decision to cancel Eid al-Fitr celebrations on Sunday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would stand, even though there have been no new domestic cases of COVID-19 in more than a month. It will be the first time in 60 years that the event has not be held at the mosque. The Ministry of Labor had asked all mosques to suspend Eid al-Fitr celebrations and prayers this year, due to COVID-19 concerns, and encouraged Muslims to pray at home. This year Ramadan began on April 23 and is to
KAOHSIUNG VOTE: A city official allegedly wrote a message calling on supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu not to participate in the vote next month Prosecutors on Wednesday initiated an investigation of Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tsao Huan-jung (曹桓榮) for allegedly telling supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to interfere with a recall vote against Han, while pan-green politicians denounced the mayor and his team for devising ways to obstruct voting. After receiving complaints from residents, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office launched its probe of Tsao for alleged breaches of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法). Complainants provided evidence that Tsao on Saturday last week wrote on messaging app Line that Han supporters should not vote in the June 6 recall vote, saying:
BILINGUAL ASSISTANCE: The center launched a chat bot that features Chinese and English interfaces to provide foreigners with instant information about the pandemic The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis. Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus. Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while