Six alleged members of a gang accused of attempting to smuggle 22 mainlanders to the United States in a shipping container last year went on trial in Shanghai yesterday, a court official and a local newspaper said. US authorities found the illegal immigrants inside a 12-metre shipping container on board the MV Rotterdam in Seattle on April 5 last year. The vessel, operated by the China Shipping company, left Shanghai on March 23 last year, the Oriental Morning Post reported. The trial of Chen Youxiong, allegedly the leader of the gang, and five other suspects opened in the Shanghai No1 Intermediate People's Court. They have been charged with people trafficking. Chief judge Zhang Zhijie, said the case would require another court session, after which the verdicts would be announced. The 22 stowaways - 18 men and 4 women - were from Fujian province . They each paid more than US$30,000 to snakeheads and arrived in the United States after a two-week sea journey. They were detained by police on arrival in Seattle. The shipping container was equipped with three portable fans powered by car batteries to help the stowaways breathe. US authorities also found 600 bottles of water, 200 packs of biscuits and dozens of blankets. The stowaways were given saws to break their way out of the container after arriving at their destination. Chen, 35, allegedly received help from three friends - Zhang Hua, Cai Yihao and He Yueyan - to recruit 22 people over six months starting from August 2005. The prosecutor was quoted by the Oriental Morning Post as saying that smuggling 22 people to the US was a 'dangerous game' because they could have died.