Snakeheads are again using secret compartments for people smuggling

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2007, 12:00am

The use of secret compartments has re-emerged as a means for people-smuggling syndicates to smuggle stowaways from the mainland into Hong Kong, police said yesterday.

Marine police Superintendent Wong Chun-chin said the syndicates had not used this method for a long time.

He made the comments yesterday in announcing the arrest of a cross-border people-smuggling ring during a land-and-sea operation in Tuen Mun early on Wednesday morning.

Of the 22 people arrested, two men from Hong Kong and three from the mainland are suspected of being snakeheads - gang members that specialise in people smuggling. The other 17 included seven mainland women and four men from Sri Lanka and Pakistan aged 27 to 39. They were found hiding in a compartment after officers intercepted a 7-metre wooden boat off Lung Kwu Tan at about 3am.

'Few people have been using sealed compartments over the past few years because the court would hand down heavier sentences,' Mr Wong said.

'The route this time was very long. Without concealed compartments on the boat, it is hard for them not to be discovered all the way in Zhuhai waters to Hong Kong.'

Marine west divisional commander Chan Chun said smugglers usually started their voyages from Shekou but now they were embarking from Panyu and Nansha .