NEWS: Smugglers Used Indian Reservation

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 10:46:15 -0800 (PST)


 Smugglers Used Indian Reservation
 By ANNE GEARAN
 Associated Press Writer
           WASHINGTON (AP) _ Smugglers brought thousands of illegal Chinese
 workers into the United States through a remote Indian reservation
 along the Canadian border, Attorney General Janet Reno said
 Thursday as she announced the arrests of 35 alleged smugglers and
 Indian accomplices.
           Reno said the alleged ring, based in New York, is the largest
 alien smuggling operation ever detected along the northern border.
 Many of the 35 were arrested in sweeps Wednesday after a year of
 investigation, authorities said.
           Ring leaders face federal conspiracy and alien trafficking
 charges. Some of the approximately 3,600 young Chinese men
 allegedly smuggled in over two years and some U.S. employers may
 also face charges, authorities said.
           ``There is no safe haven for those who seek to profit from human
 misery and suffering,'' Reno said at a news conference with
 Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Doris Meissner
 and other officials.
           Smugglers tried to take advantage of the lightly patrolled
 border between New York and Canada, and the sometimes confusing
 overlap of American, Canadian and tribal government jurisdictions,
 authorities said.
           ``The geography of the (reservation area) is perfect for
 smuggling,'' of human cargo as well as the more traditional
 contraband of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, said Thomas Maroney,
 U.S. attorney in Albany, N.Y.
           Illegal aliens promised to pay as much as $47,000 each in
 installments to travel a complicated route through two or three
 continents before ending up in Canada, where they were smuggled by
 boat across the St. Lawrence River, U.S. and Canadian authorities
 said.
           Smugglers working with accomplices on or near the St. Regis
 Mohawk Territory hid about 150 illegal immigrants a month in safe
 houses, then took them more than seven hours by car to New York
 City, authorities said.
           ``A couple of them were stuffed in the trunk of a car,'' Maroney
 said. ``In one case, they were packed in a van like cord wood.''
           Meissner said there is no evidence tribal government leaders on
 the St. Regis reservation knew of the alleged smuggling operation.
 Immigration authorities have not found similar rings operating
 through other border reservations, she said.
           The alleged ring took in about $170 million over the past two
 years, Reno said. Typically, would-be illegal immigrants pooled
 money from relatives in China for an upfront fee paid to Chinese
 smugglers called ``snakeheads,'' authorities said. The snakeheads
 then arranged passage to the United States, where they collected
 the rest of the money, authorities said.
           A 36-count indictment filed last week in federal court in Albany
 lists 35 people allegedly smuggled from Canada last spring and
 summer ``for the purpose of financial advantage and private
 financial gain.''
           Last month, Meissner and Reno announced that authorities had
 dismantled the largest illegal alien operation ever uncovered in
 the United States, a ring allegedly responsible for smuggling more
 than 12,000 Indians and other foreigners.
           Twenty-one people were arrested in that case, which involved
 alleged smuggling over the southern border with Mexico.
           
         


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