150 IIs held after police raid boat off Tuen Mun
At least 150 illegal immigrants were arrested after marine police boarded a mainland boat off Tuen Mun last night and found them crammed inside the hold.
'This is the biggest single arrest of illegal immigrants so far this year,' a senior marine police officer said late last night.
Officers said according to the initial head count at least 150 men and women had been found aboard the 38.5-metre-long river boat after a final head count was held on land. They said there had been at least 100 men aboard.
The vessel was towed to the marine police base at Tai Lam Chung, where reinforcements were called in to process the mainlanders.
'We will be interviewing the illegal immigrants overnight to determine where they boarded the vessel and how much they had each paid for their trip to Hong Kong,' one officer said.
Marine police launches on anti-illegal immigration patrol spotted the mainland vessel off the Immigration Anchorage in Tuen Mun shortly before 9.30pm and boarded it for a check.
The suspected human smuggling racket was uncovered when officers opened the hatch doors to the hold.
Police guarded the vessel and ordered the master to sail and berth the boat at the marine police base.
They are expected to inform the Chinese authorities of the arrest of the vessel's crew.
Early today, it was not known how many crew members had been aboard the vessel, which weighed 118 tonnes, or from where it had sailed.