NEWS: Canada, U.S. break up China immigrant smuggling ring

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Fri, 11 Dec 1998 11:31:36 -0800 (PST)


Canada, U.S. break up China immigrant smuggling ring
By Scott Anderson

TORONTO, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Wednesday that Canadian
and U.S. authorities have broken up a major criminal ring that smuggled
hundreds of Chinese immigrants into the United States via Canada.

The arrests of eight people in Canada and another 23 in the United States
over the past few days culminated a 12-month joint investigation, the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police said.

 Warrants for 10 more arrests have been issued.

The operation, dubbed Project Othello, was conducted jointly by the RCMP,
Toronto police and Canadian and U.S. immigration authorities.

According to an RCMP spokeswoman, the ring was responsible for smuggling
people from China's Fujian Province through the Canadian border city of
Cornwall, Ontario into the United States. Each immigrant paid the ring
$40,000.

``We have shut down a major organisation here,'' said RCMP spokeswoman
Const. Michele Paradis. She said authorities were unable to determine
exactly how many immigrants were smuggled into the United States by the ring.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and Doris Meissner, commissioner of the
U.S. Immigration and Naturalisation Service, were scheduled to give details
on the operation on Thursday.

At its peak, the ring carried out 33 smuggling runs into the United States
over a 60-day period, the RCMP said. The number of people smuggled on each
trip ranged from 8 to 24.

Using fraudulent documents, the immigrants travelled to Canada from China.
Once in Canada, they claimed refugee status and were housed by the ring in
the Toronto area. They remained there until they paid part of the smuggling
fee with wages from labour arranged by the smugglers.

They were then transported to Cornwall where they were slipped across the
St. Lawrence River into the United States.

 They were housed in various locations in upstate New York before being
transferred to New York City. The gang held them there while they worked
off the balance of the smuggling fee.

Eight people arrested in Canada were mostly from Toronto and Cornwall and
were scheduled to appear before a Toronto court on Thursday to face charges
of violating the U.S. and Canadian immigration codes.

The arrests come just two weeks after U.S. immigration agents broke up a
cartel that smuggled more than 12,000 illegal immigrants into the United
States from Asia through Russia, Cuba and the Bahamas.

The immigrants, mostly from India, but also from Pakistan, Afghanistan and
Syria, were smuggled into the country at the request of businesses seeking
cheap labour.

The employers paid $20,000 per immigrant, fees that were later deducted
from wages.


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