China Drops Hammer on Illegal Emigration

Frontier police in East China's Fujian Province have acted swiftly and effectively to curb illegal emigration since the launch at the beginning of the year of the central government's campaign against serious criminal activities.

During the first eight months, the local frontier defence authorities have cracked more than 30 people-smuggling cases, seizing some 300 stowaways and over 280 organizers, including snakeheads, who took charge of transporting the stowaways.

They have also dealt with 40 stowaway cases at the port involving more than 50 suspects. A total of 200 of the 280 arrested organizers were given criminal detention or were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

With the co-operation of border defence police in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Fuzhou, Fujian border police also succeeded in cracking a major case on July 24 and 25. They seized 29 suspects including 12 snakeheads and 17 stowaways who had hoped to steal across the border to Japan.

After interrogation, the snakeheads confessed to arranging the passage for more than 20 people. They collected 16,000-17,000 yuan (US$1,900-2,000) from each.

The border police authorities in Fujian Province have consolidated their research and investigations into the new crime trend, re-ordering the port administration accordingly.

Border police at all levels in Fujian pledged to spare no effort during the latter part of the year in the fight against the snakeheads.

Especially during the past few years, illegal emigration has been a serious impediment to the country's economic development, and represents a threat to social order.

According to statistics from the Frontier Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, there were more than 1,300 illegal migration cases inland in 1999, and more than 9,000 stowaways were captured. The United States, Canada, Japan and Australia are among the major destinations favoured by stowaways.

Police reports indicate that snakeheads charge each stowaway at least 10,000 yuan(US$1,200).

The law provides for prison sentences of between two and seven years for the organizers, but the snakeheads could face more severe punishments depending on the seriousness of their crime. Busted stowaways can be fined 1,000 (US$120) to 5,000 yuan (US$602).

(China Daily 08/31/2001)

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