Fourteen suspects were arrested on Sunday in Macao and Zhuhai for alleged people-smuggling using sampans to carry mainlanders illegally in and out of Zhuhai and Macao, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Cheong Kam Fai said during a special press conference on Monday.
The seven suspects caught in Macao include a jobless local woman in her forties surnamed Lei in charge of the gang’s “meet and greet” arrangement and a male mainlander surnamed Wei in his thirties who told the police that he is a worker. Cheong said that Wei was the gang’s skipper, transferring its clients to and from Macao and Zhuhai. Three other men and a woman caught by the local police illegally arrived in Macao on a sampan arranged by the gang. They are from Fujian and Jiangxi, aged between 25 and 40. Another man who had entered Macao illegally and was waiting to be smuggled back to Zhuhai by the gang was also caught. Two of the gang’s five clients had been banned from entering Macao for economic crimes and illegal currency exchange activities.
According to Cheong, the local police recently exchanged intelligence with the Zhuhai Public Security Bureau (PSB) that a people-smuggling gang was using sampans to transport mainlanders illegally between Zhuhai and Macao. The police and customs service officers of the two places cooperated in a joint operation and identified the suspects as well as the location where the illegal entries and exits were to take place.
According to Cheong, the local police learnt on Sunday that the gang would smuggle three men and a woman from the mainland and put them ashore near Macau Tower, and also smuggle a mainlander who had illegally entered Macao back to Zhuhai. PJ officers and Macao Customs Service officers put the area under surveillance in anticipation of the sampan’s arrival.
At about 4 am on Sunday, PJ officers saw Lei and a man walking around near Macau Tower. Soon afterwards, a motorised wooden sampan transporting the three men and a woman arrived at the scene with Wei behind the wheel. The officers arrested Lei and Wei as well as their five clients, according to Cheong.
Meanwhile, the Zhuhai PSB officers took action at the same time and arrested seven suspected members of the gang in the mainland, aged between 24 and 39, including three key male members, Cheong said.
According to Cheong, the gang charged each client between 15,000 to 30,000 yuan (MOP 18,150–36,300). Lei and Wei both admitted that they received 2,000 yuan after each successful transfer. Cheong said the duo were involved in at least two people-smuggling cases. The gang’s five clients told the police that “entertainment” was the purpose of their trips.
Cheong said the police were still investigating the gang’s operational details, such as how long it had been smuggling people between Macao and Zhuhai.
Lei and Wei were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Monday, facing charges of organised crime and aiding and abetting people smuggling, according to Cheong.