Tue, May 15, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Coast guard member implicated in 2016 mushroom smuggling attempt

By Yang Cheng-chun and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office has indicted a coast guard sergeant, a fishing boat owner and his son, as well as 11 other people, for allegedly smuggling mushrooms from China.

A Taichung-based suspect surnamed Yeh (葉) allegedly asked fishing boat owner Tsai Ching-lung (蔡慶龍) and his son, Tsai Chin-shu (蔡金樹), to smuggle the mushrooms to Taiwan.

Yeh promised them NT$500 per kilogram of mushrooms, Tsai Ching-lung said, adding that in December 2016 he agreed to pay coast guard sergeant Chien Chang-hung (簡昌弘) NT$30,000 for each shipment he helped cover, prosecutors said.

Chien, who demanded to be paid up-front, citing loans he needed to repay, leaked information about patrol hours and the locations of mobile and stationary units to Tsai Ching-lung, the prosecutors said.

After ascertaining that Chien would be on duty the day the shipment arrived, Yeh purchased 346 boxes, or 3,346kg, of mushrooms and loaded them onto boats owned by Tsai Ching-lung at sea, they said.

When the shipment arrived at Wuci Harbor (梧棲) on Dec. 26, 2016, Chien allegedly boarded the ship and told the accompanying junior officer, surnamed Pang (龐), that making a visual sweep of the deck was sufficient and there was no need to enter the cabin, the prosecutors said. The suspects were arrested two days later by a coast guard patrol as they allegedly tried to move the contraband out of the harbor.

Chien in May last year also allegedly helped cover for another smuggling attempt involving mushrooms and betel nuts, the prosecutors said. That operation was headed by two men, surnamed Chen (陳) and Lin (林), they said, adding that Tsai Ching-lung also tried to help move the smuggled cargo.

The smugglers allegedly tried to move the cargo out of the harbor on May 16 last year, and Chien attempted to clear the patrols by treating them to snacks, the office said.

Assuming that a sergeant surnamed Chang (張) and another coast guard member had left the compound, as he did not see them among the patrols, Chien told the smugglers to move the cargo, leading to Tsai Ching-lung’s capture with the contraband.

The suspected smugglers implicated Chien during questioning, and when he was summoned to give an affidavit, Chien confessed to the crimes, the office said.

Chien and the Tsais have been charged with breaching the Anti-Corruption Act (貪污治罪條例), while the 11 others face charges under the Smuggling Penalty Act (懲治走私條例).

Additional reporting by CNA

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