The trafficking of illegal migrants has become rampant around Fuzhou, Mr Zhao acknowledged. He described the situation as tense after police discovered illegal migrants from Changle and Fuqing, two traditional smuggling blackspots, preparing to leave the mainland in recent months. Xinhua reported on Tuesday that 81 illegal migrants and four members of a Taiwan gang who were heading for the United States were intercepted near Changle. Mr Zhao said the provincial authorities had decided to increase penalties for any boat people who were arrested. Those caught now faced a six-month jail term and snakeheads could have their boats confiscated.