The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) on Tuesday last week detained a man who allegedly cheated Taiwanese out of their passports as part of a China-based human smuggling operation.
Police held the Taoyuan man surnamed Lin (林), 21, for questioning and recovered 20 Republic of China (ROC) passports, said Su Li-tsung (蘇立琮), captain of the 2nd Squadron at the CIB International Criminal Affairs Division.
Lin had prior criminal convictions and was working with a international human-trafficking ring, based in China’s Fujian Province, Su said.
Photo copied by Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times
An investigation is ongoing to locate any other Taiwanese affiliated with the ring, he added.
“Taiwanese passports can fetch good prices on the international black market, selling for up to NT$30,000 each, as there are reciprocal arrangements for visa-free entry to the US and European nations, for a total of 112 countries around the world,” Su said.
The “passports are highly coveted by Chinese human smugglers and criminal groups, who can use them to smuggle Chinese from China and Southeast Asia into these countries,” he said.
During questioning, Lin said that he communicated with the Fujian group through WeChat and was given instructions on where to collect the passports, which he would send to an address in Fujian through an air courier.
Lin said he allegedly sent nine air courier parcels in the past few months, each containing two to four passports, for total of 20, and that he received NT$1,500 for each parcel, Su said.
However, Lin said that he did not know the people who gave him the instructions, he added.
CIB investigators launched the investigation after an international courier company alerted them in December last year, as the law prohibits sending passports abroad by mail or courier.
The parcels containing the passports were traced to a temporary storage unit in a warehouse at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
With other Taiwanese suspects, Lin reportedly obtained the passports by defrauding the passport holders, Su said.
The suspects allegedly posted job ads online and asked applicants to hand over their passports, posed as police or judiciary officials to ask people for their passports under the guise of investigating a criminal case, or promoted favorable loans and asked for passports as collateral, he added.
Lin would face fraud charges for contravening legal provisions governing passport use, prosecutors said.
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