TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two Taiwanese fishermen were arrested Wednesday (July 8) for attempting to smuggle 30 Vietnamese workers into Taiwan.
The Kaohsiung branch of the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) received a tip that a fishing boat was carrying Vietnamese nationals and preparing to smuggle them into Taiwan. The CGA formed a task force that included Kaohsiung police and dispatched three patrol boats on Monday evening (July 6) to search for the boat.
At 11:50 p.m., the patrol boats spotted the fishing boat 10.4 nautical miles (19.3 kilometers) off the coast of Pingtung, and once CGA officers boarded the vessel wearing hazmat suits, they discovered 30 Vietnamese citizens on the deck, sleeping cabins, and bottom hold, including seven females and 23 males, reported UDN. Also on board were the ship's skipper, surnamed Tsai (蔡), and a crew member surnamed Liu (劉).
View of ship's hold from above. (CGA photo)
The officers then checked the Vietnamese for fever and respiratory systems and dispatched them to a quarantine center, where they will stay for 14 days, before they are transferred to the National Immigration Agency for processing. The CGA said that 29 of the 30 Vietnamese had previously worked in Taiwan legally.
According to a preliminary investigation, traffickers charged the Vietnamese US$10,000 each for the journey, a significant increase from the previous going rate of US$7,000, reported CNA. The CGA said the increased price could be the result of tightened border restrictions since the start of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
On Wednesday, Tsai and Liu were transferred to the Pingtung District Prosecutor's Office to be investigated for violating the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法) and the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法).
Vietnamese found onboard the vessel. (CGA photo)
Vietnamese found inside the boat. (CGA photo)