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Vietnam nationals caught illegally entering Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Over a dozen Vietnamese nationals trying to enter Taiwan illegally in search of work were caught off the coast of Taichung Friday night, a Coast Guard Administration (CGA) official said Saturday.

The 18 Vietnamese were found on board a vessel intercepted by the Coast Guard two nautical miles from the Port of Taichung around 8 p.m. Friday, said Chen Pao-cheng, a CGA official in the central city.

Two Coast Guard vessels were dispatched on a tip from fishermen about a suspicious vessel carrying no fishing equipment as it moved slowly in waters off neighboring Miaoli County, Chen said.

The vessel was found to have taken in water when it was intercepted, the CGA said.

Officials said the 18 Vietnamese nationals traveled from northern Vietnam into China, where they each put US$1,300 toward buying the vessel. The ship reportedly departed from Pingtan in the Chinese province of Fujian Thursday morning.

Twelve of the 18 have previous records of working in Taiwan illegally, the CGA noted.

The CGA planned to hand them over to prosecutors for further investigation Saturday before sending them to the National Immigration Agency's detention center in Nantou County.

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