News/US: Authorities see global smuggling conspiracy

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Subject: News/US: Authorities see global smuggling conspiracy
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Aug 20 1999 - 09:37:20 EDT


The INS is investigating whether or not this is a trafficking case,
although they don't name it as such. I'm glad that the INS is
investigating employers in the US.

Melanie...

___________

Authorities see global smuggling conspiracy
By Mark Bixler
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 18, 1999

Federal authorities expanded their investigation and delayed plans to make
arrests Tuesday in the case of 132 Chinese found hidden in a ship last week
in Savannah.

The investigation could lead to racketeering charges, said W. Fred
Alexander, Immigration and Naturalization Service deputy district director.
Federal prosecutors in Savannah could sustain such charges if they prove
that a well-organized "ongoing criminal conspiracy" is behind the smuggling
attempt, he said.

"This certainly appears to be the results of a conspiracy that started
halfway around the world," Alexander said.

Authorities said they want to determine whether any American businesses
were awaiting the arrival of the Chinese and, if so, whether those
employers should face charges.

"This is not a mom and pop smuggling operation," said INS District Director
Thomas Fischer. It is possible that U.S. employers planned to hire the
Chinese, Fischer said.

INS agents found the Chinese on Thursday in a secret compartment of the
Prince Nicolas, a 40,000-ton ship registered in Cyprus. They also detained
28 crew members.

They said Tuesday that they have asked for arrest warrants against some
defendants and others to be held as material witnesses. No one has been
formally charged yet.

Fischer said "there is a strong possibility" that about 20 people will face
charges. It is unclear when agents will make arrests. "These people were
coming here as workers--not tourists. Someone was brokering the whole
thing," he said.

Each of the 68 stowaways interviewed so far has asked for asylum. The INS
first charged a U.S. employer in a conspiracy to smuggle aliens in 1997,
when agents arrested employees of Atlantic Finishing Inc. of Trenton
claiming they were involved in a scheme to bring illegal Mexican immigrants
to Dalton.

Ten people, including company President Fred Parrish, pleaded guilty. One
was convicted. Parrish was fined $10,000 and sentenced to 10 months in
prison. The company was fined $84,000.


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