NEWS: Smugglers' human cargo destined for Canada

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Tue, 10 Nov 1998 15:18:56 -0800 (PST)


Smugglers' human cargo destined for Canada
Hong Kong Airport Swap: Chinese paying $26,000 (US) for passage
Peter Morton, Financial Post
National Post (Canada), Tuesday, November 10, 1998

Smugglers trying to take advantage of Hong Kong's sprawling new airport and
a more open border with China have been caught trying to sneak mainland
Chinese to Canada by bribing airline staff to switch boarding passes.

The elaborate scheme, which cost $26,000 (US) for each person trying to get
to Canada, involved three Hong Kong men, two Taiwanese men and three
Chinese woman. All were arrested by Hong Kong's Independent Commission
Against Corruption.

Canadian consular officials would not say yesterday whether Canadian
passports were among the 13 fake ones seized late Sunday along with other
Chinese travel documents but they admitted the smuggling of Chinese to
Canada from Hong Kong was becoming a major concern.

"Illegal immigration is a big problem we're facing," said Jennifer May, a
Canadian government spokeswoman in Hong Kong. "It's something we're trying
to stop."

Hong Kong authorities said the syndicate had arranged for what it called
corrupt airline staff to switch boarding passes once those being smuggled
and their escorts had cleared immigration at Hong Kong's new Chek Lap Kok
airport.

The airport's design allows passengers who have been through immigration to
head to virtually any gate at the major Asian airline hub that opened this
year.

"Once you're in, you can go anywhere you want," said a Hong Kong official.

The Chinese women heading for Canada were to have first stopped in Japan
instead of returning to Shanghai. They did not appear to have anything
other than travel permits for between Hong Kong and mainland China, the
commission said.

The U.S. Congress is becoming increasingly concerned that Vancouver is
becoming a port for illegal immigrants and drugs coming into the United
States. The problem was one of the major reasons the Congress pushed to
include Canadians in a new U.S. immigration law that would force every
non-U.S. citizen to fill out entry forms.

The law has been delayed for as long as two years because of concerns
largely by U.S. border politicians and the U.S. Immigration Service that
the Canada-U.S. border would get hopelessly bogged down unless new
technology, such as smart cards, was implemented.

Canada is not the only country being targeted by Chinese and Taiwanese
smugglers taking advantage of China's takeover of Hong Kong 18 months ago.
Last May, the commission said it caught another syndicate of smugglers
trying to move Chinese into Japan.

The elaborate scheme included escorts and safe houses in Japan.

****


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