Taichung police broke a cross-strait criminal ring on Sunday night and rescued a hostage who had been held by kidnappers for 15 days.
Police arrested six men and two women in the bust. The main suspect, Hsu Jung-chin (
Telephone fraud has become rampant in Taiwan, with criminal rings making phone calls from China to attempt to coerce people here to transfer money into the criminals' bank accounts.
Taichung police said in a press release yesterday that Hsu had previously conspired with a Taichung man surnamed Lai to commit telephone fraud. Because Hsu knew that Lai had made a large amount of money from the fraud, he decided to kidnapped Lai's father and hold him for ransom.
Police said Lai's father, a farmer, was seized by three suspects on Sept. 24 in front of his house in a suburb of Taichung City. The criminals immediately called the younger Lai to ask him for a NT$300 million (US$9.07million) ransom.
Police said that on Sept. 28 Lai's family packed NT$ 3 million into a bag and took a southbound train from Taichung City under Hsu's orders.
The suspects had directed the family to throw the bag from a door of the train as it passed through a town in Taichung County.
However, since the family was unable to open the train's door because it was moving, the suspects did not receive the money, police said.
The suspects then asked Lai to deposit the money in a bank account in China. To save his father, on Oct. 1 the younger Lai carried a quantity of jewels to Macao and sold them in casinos there for cash, police said.
Lai then deposited 800,000 yuan into Hsu's account in China, but Hsu refused to free the elder Lai and asked for another three million yuan, police said.
Police said they were able to identify the suspects by their frequent phone conversations with the victim's family.
On Sunday night, armed police officers raided an apartment in Kaoshiung City, saving the hostage and arresting three men and a woman who was guarding the kidnapped man.
Police seized a pistol and 23 bullets in the apartment and said the victim had not been injured.
Meanwhile, at almost the same time, police arrested Hsu and his wife at their residence in Pingtung.
They said that Hsu had planned to leave for China yesterday afternoon to take possession of the ransom.
Two other suspects involved in the kidnapping were also apprehended in Taichung City on Friday night.
Police said that the younger Lai was given probation in a fraud case last year by the Changhua District Court.