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July 26, 2017

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Five arrested in mainland fishermen-trafficking scam

Prosecutors and police in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan, arrested five people early yesterday morning on charges of allegedly getting involved in a document forgery and human trafficking scam that could have illegally brought in around 1,000 fishermen from China.

One of the five was identified as Huang Che-wei, who already quit his job at the fishery department of the Yilan county government. The other four were Lin Chun-hsiung, Chen Kun-yao, Chen Yen-liang, and Chuan Chih-kai, all serving at the fishery department of the county government.

The five confessed to prosecutors that they did falsify registration documents concerning fishermen brought in from mainland China. But they also said that some mainland fishermen enjoyed privileges and can hardly be supervised.

Led by prosecutors, close to 300 investigators, police, and coast guards conducted surprise identity checks of Chinese fishermen hired by Taiwan fishing firms and presently dwelling at an inland shelter in western Suao Harbor.

As a result, prosecutors found there were 46 problem mainland fishermen. One of them, identified as We Wen-chung, had been repatriated back to mainland China, but he still remains in Taiwan.

Prosecutors said that records show more than 2,000 Chinese fishermen were brought to Suao area but about 1,000 of them are missing.

They suspect that the missing men could have taken up jobs elsewhere.

Prosecutors also raided the office of Hailun Ltd., which functions as a brokerage agency to hire the low-cost fishermen for Taiwan fishing firms that cannot afford to employ local people.

The evidences gathered included some forged identity documents and blank ID badges to be used by Chinese fishermen.

Hu Shih-kuang, owner of Hailun, and his two sons plus two company employees were detained for further investigation.

National security agencies have expressed their concern about possible security breaches in the hiring of Chinese fishermen, who could pose a security threat.

Legitimate Chinese fishermen working for fishing companies are housed in a dormitories under tight supervision whenever they return ashore.

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