Criminal Investigation Bureau busts smugglers

Source: Taipei Times

Sunday, Aug 09, 2009, Page 3

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) yesterday said it had broken up a human-trafficking ring that used the passports of Taiwanese Aboriginal children to smuggle Chinese minors into France.

In June, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) made a similar breakthrough involving another group that used the same method to traffic Chinese youths to the US.

The CIB yesterday said it received a tip that a man surnamed Liao (?) and the criminal group he headed had successfully smuggled Chinese minors to the US several times.

After the US strengthened its visa application policy last month by requiring that all persons under the age of 14 go to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) for a face-to-face visa interview, the group shifted its operations to France, the bureau said.

The CIB said the traffickers would pay anywhere between NT$5,000 to NT$10,000 for the personal information of Aboriginal children in Hualien and would then use the documents to apply for authentic Republic of China (ROC) passports and foreign visas.

Currently, the Bureau of Consular Affairs does not require people to apply for a passport in person.

After obtaining an ROC passport and a visa to a third country, the traffickers would bring the travel documents to Hong Kong to meet up with Chinese counterparts who brought minors from China. Together, the children and their escorts would fly to either the US, France, Mexico or other countries from Hong Kong using the passports.

The CIB said the crime syndicates had bought the personal information of 45 Aboriginal children and trafficked 37 Chinese minors to the US and other countries.

The crime ring earns US$70,000 for each child it smuggles. The CIB estimated that Liao’s group had made a profit of more than NT$80 million (US$2.4 million).

Together with Hualien police, the CIB arrested members of the group at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday. Police also found the members had a large quantity of fraudulent passports and counterfeit NIA immigration custom stamps.

The 2009 annual Trafficking in Persons report published in June by the US Department of Homeland Security said that Taiwan remained a Tier 2 country.

Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan all received the same ranking, while China has stayed on the Tier 2 watch list for five years running.