UNITED States investigators made a lightning visit to Hong Kong this week to work on the extradition of the alleged head of the Fuk Ching triad - one of America's most wanted men. Kwok Ling-kay, 31, reputed to be the mastermind behind New York's most notorious illegal immigrant smuggling gangs, faces trial in the US for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder, kidnap and wounding. American Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) investigators have also named him as being involved in last year's disastrous attempt to smuggle 330 Fujianese illegal immigrants to New York aboard the Golden Venture. Assistant US attorney with the organised crime unit, Chauncey Parker, and the chief of the Asian gangs unit with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Luke Rettler, flew to Hong Kong to work with local Interpol officers last week. Mr Parker said 19 members of Kwok's New York-based gang were jointly charged with racketeering, gangland slayings, extortions, robbery, kidnapping and running illegal gambling in the city's Chinatown district. ''Everybody but Kwok and [his alleged Fuk Ching bodyguard] Li Xing-hua are in the United States,'' Mr Parker said. Kwok and Li - thought to have left New York after the Golden Venture ran aground last June - were arrested by Hong Kong Interpol and organised crime and triad officers as they ate at a Western district foodstall in August. ''This case made a splash in August and there's a frustrating down-time where notes have to be reviewed, defence attorneys have to review their papers,'' Mr Parker said. ''It's been already eight months and all we're doing is preparing the case.'' The trial is likely to begin in late summer, Mr Parker said. About 290 people paid between US$20,000 (about HK$155,000) and US$30,000 to stow away in the hold of the Golden Venture, which left China on February 13 last year. The ship ran aground off New York on June 6. Six people drowned trying to swim ashore and 284 were arrested. In Allentown prison, 16 prisoners have vowed to commit suicide if they are sent back to China. At least one prisoner among the Chinese at York is reported to have tried to hang himself with a bed sheet.