Police in Hong Kong and mainland China arrest 25 as cross-border Vietnamese people-smuggling racket smashed
- In Hong Kong, police arrest eight men and six women in series of raids
- Another 11 people held in Guangdong province
A transnational people-smuggling syndicate that brought illegal immigrants from Vietnam into Hong Kong via mainland China has been broken up following the arrest of 25 people in the city and Guangdong province, police said on Friday.
In Hong Kong, police arrested eight men and six women, aged 28 to 60, and seized HK$100,0000 (US$12,820) in a series of raids across the city starting on Thursday evening.
Across the border, their mainland counterparts rounded up another 11 people in Guangdong.
Acting Senior Superintendent Simon Kwan King-pan of the force’s Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said the 25 suspects included 15 core figures of the racket. The others were Vietnamese illegal immigrants.
He said the syndicate offered a one-stop service and had a “clear division of work”.
“After smuggling illegal immigrants into Hong Kong, vehicles were arranged to pick them up at landing spots and transport them to hideouts in urban areas such as Mong Kok,” Kwan said.
He said the syndicate also offered them bogus identity cards which they could use to find illegal employment and even transported them to find jobs.
Investigation showed Vietnamese illegal immigrants were smuggled to Guangxi province by land and vehicles were then arranged to take them to coastal areas in Shenzhen before they came to Hong Kong by boat, according to police.
“Investigations show illegal immigrants were each charged HK$10,000 for the journey to Hong Kong and fake identity cards cost an extra HK$1,500 each,” Kwan said.
He said illegal immigrants could use the bogus identity cards to find work such as cleaning or restaurant jobs.
The bureau began investigating the racket and then exchanged intelligence with mainland police after recently receiving a tip-off.
As the gang arranged a new boatload of illegal immigrants from Shenzhen to Hong Kong, officers in Hong Kong and Guangdong swooped into action and mounted their joint arresting operation, code-named “Boldhero”, on Thursday evening.
Kwan said investigations were ongoing and it was possible more arrests would be made.
He said local authorities would not tolerate such illegal activities and would take “resolute” actions to tackle the problem.
He said there was a decrease in the arrest of non-Chinese illegal immigrants in the city since 2016 after a series of operations by local and mainland authorities.
As of 2pm on Friday, the 14 suspects arrested in Hong Kong were being held for questioning and had not been charged.