Thirteen suspects who smuggled nearly 500 Chinese nationals out of the country would be prosecuted soon, state media quoted police in southern Guangdong province as saying.
The suspects, based in Guangdong and Fujian provinces, smuggled 493 people, who went to work illegally in Brazil and Panama, between the end of 2012 and August last year, according to Xinhua.
When police in Jiangmen, Guangdong, arrested the suspects in August last year, they said it was the biggest illegal emigration case since 2008.
The suspected "snakeheads" charged emigrants US$17,000 to US$18,000 to go to Brazil, and US$21,000 to US$24,000 to go to Panama.
Police were tipped off that smugglers were organising a group of people to illegally emigrate to Brazil from August 3 to 5. The intended route was from Taishan, Guangdong, to Cuba via Brazil, except that those people would have falsified Brazilian visas to stay there instead. They arrested the suspected smugglers, who were from several different cities in Guangdong, along with five people who wanted to emigrate and 48 Brazilian visas on August 3 and 4.
The emigrants whose destination was Panama were travelling on South Korean tourist visas, police said. It was not immediately clear how smugglers helped the emigrants going to Panama.
Police said the suspects had trained emigrants how to deal with checks at the overseas airports, and would bribe immigration officers at the Rio de Janeiro airport when they arrived.
Police set up a special task force last year in February to work on the case after they received repatriated emigrants from Brazil and found that those emigrants mentioned the same person when asked who helped them emigrate, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.