Thu, Oct 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Arms smuggler gets 20-year prison term

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Police officers escort firearms smuggling suspects Liao Wei-chang, left foreground, and Tseng Meng-han, right background, out of a building on May 11.

Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times

The Keelung District Court yesterday convicted Liao Wei-chang (廖緯蒼), a local Bamboo Union gang boss, of smuggling firearms into Taiwan and handed him a 20-year prison term and a fine of NT$600,000 (US$19,563).

Investigators said they found that the firearms had come from the Philippines and were first shipped to Hong Kong before being transshipped to Taiwan under the guise of machinery equipment,

A task force made up of units from the prosecutors’ office, the Keelung Harbor Police Department, the Criminal Investigation Bureau and the Keelung branch of the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau worked on the case.

Investigators said it was one of the largest weapons smuggling case in recent years.

When the task force raided a warehouse in New Taipei City on May 5, they uncovered a total of 109 firearms — seven assault rifles and 102 various models of handguns along with more than 12,000 rounds of bullets.

Three other defendants were yesterday sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison for being accomplices in the crime, either by renting the warehouse, picking up the consignment at Keelung Harbor or providing other forms of assistance to Liao.

The judges convicted the defendants of contravening provisions of the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act (槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例).

Liao’s punishment was considered heavy, albeit lighter than the prosecutors’ request for a life term, citing Liao’s refusal to divulge the source of the firearms and his foreign contacts, as well as the large number of firearms and ammunition, which posed a serious threat to public safety and social order.

After the raid on the warehouse, Liao took a flight to Malaysia the next day to avoid capture, then boarded another flight to Singapore on May 7 and stayed at a hotel, possibly to meet with other gangsters, the authorities said.

The task force asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to revoke Liao’s passport, and with information provided by Taiwanese authorities, Liao was arrested by Singaporean police a few days later.

In another development, Taichung police officers yesterday announced the result of their crackdown on organized crime over the past week, with 41 suspects taken in for questioning about their “violent conduct” related to loan shark operations, debt collection, blackmail, assault and other illegal activities.

Officials from the Taichung prosecutors’ office said the crackdown focused on specific local chapters of organized criminal groups and their local leaders, as part of a campaign to stop them from disrupting and destabilizing social order in the runup to the local elections next month.

The effort also resulted in the seizure of illegal items, including one assault rifle, three modified handguns, about 300 rounds of bullets and 1kg of miscellaneous types of narcotics, officials said.

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