Mainland, Hong Kong police operation catches 67,600 illegal immigrants
More than 67,600 illegal immigrants from Southeast Asia and South Asia were caught between February 2016 and November 2017 in a joint crackdown on human smuggling by mainland and Hong Kong police, public security authorities said in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Thursday.
Some of those caught entered the country illegally to look for work, while others sought to enter the mainland first and then transfer to Hong Kong.
Mainland police cracked more than 290 cases involving smugglers transporting people from the mainland to Hong Kong and seized over 3,470 illegal immigrants, while more than 830 were caught by Hong Kong police, the authorities said.
The police also smashed 53 gangs and seized more than 1,060 organizers of the illegal activity, it said.
The operation, which started in February 2016 and will last till July 2019, is a special campaign jointly carried out by police from Guangdong and Yunnan provinces, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Hong Kong to combat human smuggling.
According to a senior police officer from Hong Kong, 1,444 illegal immigrants were caught by local police in the first 11 months of 2015. That number had fallen to fewer than 400 over the same period this year, indicating a significant decline.
"The joint crackdown by mainland and Hong Kong police has made big achievements, which have effectively curbed human smuggling activities from the mainland to Hong Kong and ensured stability and security on the mainland-Hong Kong border," said Yin Chengjun, an official from the Ministry of Public Security's border control bureau, at a news conference in Shenzhen on Thursday.
In one case, police from Guangdong and Guangxi caught 145 Vietnamese illegal immigrants and 17 organizers on Nov 24, marking the breakup of a gang that had long been smuggling Vietnamese people into Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao.
The human smuggling activities are well-organized, Yin said.
"While Hong Kong organizers normally direct the activity, those in Southeast Asia and South Asia are responsible for hiring people and mainland organizers are in charge of transporting those being smuggled. A human smuggling industry chain has been developed," he said.
While seeking work is the primary reason motivating illegal immigrants, some have committed crimes, such as theft, robbery and drug trafficking, disrupting the mainland's social and economic order and seriously impairing Hong Kong's public security, Yin said.
"Mainland and Hong Kong police will further strengthen cooperation on information exchanges and step up efforts to crack down on such activity to ensure social security and stability," he said.