TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Some of the missing tourists were among the 11 illegal Vietnamese migrant workers found hiding in the back of a cargo truck on Thursday (Jan. 10), announced Taitung County Police Bureau on Saturday (Jan. 12), reported CNA.
Eleven illegal Vietnamese migrant workers, including nine tourists who had gone missing from their tour group last month, were arrested on Thursday after they were discovered hiding in the back of a large cargo truck in eastern Taiwan's Taitung County. That leaves 70 still unaccounted for after 148 Vietnamese tourists abandoned their tour groups shortly after arriving at their hotels in Kaohsiung last month.
While enforcing a ban on gravel trucks on a restricted roads on Thursday, Taitung County Police stopped a large truck on Heping Road in Pingnan Township. Though the truck was covered with black tarp, officers noticed movement and became suspicious.
Police arresting Vietnamese suspects. (Taitung Police Department photo)
After lifting up the tarp, they discovered 11 Vietnamese nationals hiding beneath it, including four women and seven men, none of whom were able to provide proper identification papers. According to police, one man had absconded from his place of work, one woman had entered the country illegally on tourist visa, and the remaining nine were among the group of tourists who had escaped from their tour groups after arriving in Kaohsiung last month.
All 11 were dressed in agricultural work clothes and rain boots. When questioned by police, the 11 claimed to be working in agriculture in Taitung, including weeding, digging up ginger, or harvesting sugar-apples and pineapples.
On the day of their arrest, they said that they were preparing to do some weeding. The police said that most of the workers had not been hired by local farmers, but rather brokers who rented the land for planting.
Police arrest Vietnamese suspects. (Taitung Police Department photo)
As of 5 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 13), 78 of the total of 148 missing Vietnamese tourists have been accounted for, including 47 men and 31 women, 42 of whom turned themselves in, leaving 70 still at large, according go the National Immigration Agency (NIA).
Police appealed to would-be employers to not "covet low wages" and hire illegal foreign workers. The NIA is offering a reward of NT$4,000 for information that leads to the arrest of foreign nationals who have arrived in Taiwan via the "Kuan Hung Pilot Project" (觀宏專案), but have broken the terms of their visa.
Those who have information on any of the missing tourists or wish to turn themselves in can call the following NIA numbers:
Northern District Affairs Corps (Khu Bắc): 02-29611356
Central District Affairs Corps (Khu Trung): 04-24725102
Southern District Affairs Corps (Khu Nam): 0988-955971
Border Affairs Corps (Xuất nhập cảnh): 0933-090291