Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (firstname.lastname@example.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
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,
``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
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
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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