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Traffickers exploit vulnerable Vietnamese

Jack Burton

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Traffickers exploit vulnerable Vietnamese | The Thaiger
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“Many young Vietnamese head for the cities or gamble on their chances in Europe, out of devotion to their families, to escape a life of manual labour.”

For a lot of Vietnamese, a job in Western Europe is seen as a path to prosperity and worth breaking the law for. And risking their lives. The risks are high and the consequences can be deadly, as the discovery of 39 bodies in a truck in England last week shows.

The victims were all Asian migrants who had apparently paid traffickers to smuggle them into the country. Now residents of a small rural Vietnamese community fear that two cousins were among the dead.

“I miss him very much,” said one father, who anxiously awaited word on his 18 year old son.

“That’s life. We have to sacrifice to earn a better living. He’s a good son. He wanted to go overseas to work and take care of parents when we get old. He insisted to go, for a better life.”

The boy’s mother recounted the story of her son dropping out of school in the ninth grade. He started working because they were so poor.

“He helped out by going fishing with his father. But fishing trips didn’t bring a lot.”

“He couldn’t find a job. That’s why he wanted to go.”

The family borrowed the equivalent of 17,500 dollars for him to be smuggled into France.

Families normally pay half the trafficker’s fee before the trip and the rest when the person reaches the destination. The boy’s family was never asked for the second payment, increasing fears he is among the dead.

Many young Vietnamese head for the cities or gamble on their chances in Europe, out of devotion to their families, to escape a life of manual labour, or a yearning for the trappings of wealth. But the journey of thousands of miles to Western Europe is dangerous, especially for women and children.

“There is a very high risk of sexual exploitation on the way,” according to Mimi Vu, who acts as an anti-trafficking activist based in Vietnam.

“If you’re traveling by yourself with a bunch of men, what do you think is going to happen? If they think they can make money off of you, they will.”

Safe passage rarely brings migrants real financial reward. Smuggling fees leave many migrants in a state of servitude or virtual slavery trying to repay the trafficking costs.

“The costs are typically 40,000 to 50,000 US dollars, plus interest, to be smuggled into England, and when they get there money is withheld from their meagre pay, leaving them with little or nothing.”

Paying off such debt can take years.

“There are legal and safe ways for Vietnamese to earn money overseas. They are not cheap, but they are less expensive than dealing with traffickers. Travel arranged by legitimate employment agencies ranges from 3,000 to 5,000 US dollars.”

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

The Thaiger

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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Crime

2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night

The Thaiger

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2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night | The Thaiger
PHoTO: Nashaplaneta.net

Police say 2 men were gunned down at the Phuket Bus Terminal by a colleague at the terminal along the stretch of Thepkasattri road heading into Phuket Town last night. The incident happened at about 10:15pm with the local police chief arriving along with medical staff from Vachira Hospital shortly after the incident.

60 year old Wian Iadchuthong, the alleged gunman, was waiting to surrender at the scene when police arrived. Police say Wian appeared to be drunk and told them he had a serious argument with the 2 men and decided to take their lives with the gun. Police say they found 50 year old Yod Sae Lee lying on the ground in front of a taxi service stand, badly wounded. He was given CPR before being rushed to Vachira Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

54 year old Prakob Chuthong was also found lying dead by the counter of a 24 hour car park service kiosk. Police say he had been shot 2 times, once in the left side of his head and once in his left rib cage, according to Bangkok Post.

Witnesses say before the shooting, Wian was quietly drinking alone. But after getting drunk, he walked to the counter of the car park service kiosk and allegedly fired 2 shots from a 9mm gun at point-blank range, killing Prakob instantly. Wian then ran towards Yod, who was sitting in front of the taxi service stand. Yod saw Wian coming at him with the gun and he ran away to 1 side of the terminal building, only to be intercepted by Wian who allegedly fired 5 shots. Yod was hit 1 time in the head, 2 times in the torso and 2 times in the legs. Yod was also rushed to Vachira Hospital where he later died.

An initial police investigation found that the 3 were close colleagues at the workplace, but often engaged in heated fights over motorcycle taxi and taxi services at the bus terminal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

29 arrested in Pattaya for smoking shisha above Indian restaurant

The Thaiger

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29 arrested in Pattaya for smoking shisha above Indian restaurant | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Pattaya Soi 7 - YouTube

Police are investigating an Indian restaurant where they arrested 29 people for a late night party in Pattaya’s Soi 7. The incident took place at 12:30am at a 5 story building which had the first 3 floors closed. Police say the venue was actually operating as a shisha lounge, pool hall, and bar.

The raid was based on a tip from an undercover officer who had previously confirmed the location was open and operating. When police entered the building, they found 29 people either smoking shisha, or hookah pipes, while others were playing pool, or snooker. Police say they found 18 hookah pipes (as distinct from 18 hookers).

In Thailand, shisha and hookah is illegal. 11 foreigners from India, Cambodia, and other countries were found at the venue. The remainder were Thai nationals. All 29 were arrested and taken to the Pattaya Police station where they will face charges under the Emergency Decree Act, the Communicable Disease Act and possession of an illegal substance.

Police say they don’t know who owned or managed the venue and they claimed many of the people present were “playing dumb” in terms of how they knew about the venue or who was responsible for it. Police say they will be interrogating and interviewing those arrested today to determine who should be held responsible. They also seized documents from offices on the top floor relating to ownership.

Pattaya is a “highly controlled” zone as set by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, which sees it under the toughest rules in the country in order to curb the spreading of Covid infections. Chonburi has seen 0 new cases in the past 3 days, sparking anticipation from residents and business owners for the strict measures to relax. Health authorities say they will review the measures at the end of the month, but are not promising to make a change.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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