News/UK: Chinese gang terrorised immigrants

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Subject: News/UK: Chinese gang terrorised immigrants
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Oct 13 1999 - 09:39:20 EDT


FYI: "Snakeheads" is the English translation of the Chinese slang term for
smugglers/traffickers.

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Chinese gang terrorised immigrants
By Sue Clough
The Telegraph (UK), October 12, 1999

FOUR members of a Chinese Snakehead gang who made hundreds of thousands of
pounds from illegal immigrants were told yesterday that they face long jail
sentences.

They were convicted of conspiracy to blackmail and falsely imprison after a
year-long investigation which involved police officers visiting the remote
Fujian Province in China. The Old Bailey jury heard that immigrants, mostly
>from poor, rural communities had paid almost 20,000 to local Snakeheads to
be smuggled into this country.

But once here they were held prisoner and used as "slaves" by the gang who
demanded even more money. Phone calls were made to the victims' families
during which they could hear the screams of their loved ones being beaten.

If the money was not paid, some were held prisoner - one for 22 months -
handcuffed to radiators at addresses in London controlled by the gang. The
racket came to light when one prisoner leapt to freedom from a first floor
window.

The four, all illegal immigrants, were convicted on charges concerning five
victims who were all so frightened they gave evidence from behind screens.
However, police believe that the gang's victims could number up to 500.

Chen Cheng, 25, the gang leader, Tang Zhong, 29, Li Ling, 22, all from
Plumstead, south-east London and Lin Wang, 31, will be sentenced later this
month. A fifth man, Wang Gung, 42, was acquitted.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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