TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Coast Guard found 12 Vietnamese nationals on a fishing vessel off the coast of Pingtung County Monday (April 3) evening, possibly victims of a human smuggling operation.
As part of intensified vigilance by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) during the April 1-5 Tomb Sweeping Festival, radar located a ship 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) off the Pingtung coast at 8:57 p.m. Monday, CNA reported.
Following preparations, a CGA ship arrived on the scene at 9:20 p.m., with an initial inspection finding little on board in the way of fishing gear and fish. A more thorough search turned up nine men and three women below deck, all of them Vietnamese citizens.
The CGA mobilized two more ships, and together, they accompanied the fishing vessel into the port of Fangliao. Prosecutors will continue the investigation to identify the human trafficking network believed to be behind the journey of the Vietnamese.
In February and March, seven Vietnamese citizens were found dead in the seas off Taiwan. Their names were on a list of 14 who reportedly paid a smuggling ring for safe passage to Taiwan.