Hong Kong police and mainland Chinese counterparts mount two-pronged bid to catch people trying to enter city illegally

Hong Kong police have joined forces with mainland authorities to mount a two-pronged attack on human trafficking.

The move was announced on Tuesday in the wake of an increase in the number of people from South Asia caught entering the city illegally.

Police said officers had adopted a series of tactics on land and at sea designed to catch people who attempted to evade immigration controls and the traffickers who transported them.

“The measures include strengthening patrols at sea and on land, strategically setting up roadblocks, and inspecting black spots for illegal immigrants,” the force added.

“We have also maintained close communication, enhanced intelligence exchange, and carried out joint operations with the Immigration Department and relevant law enforcement agencies in mainland China.”

Hong Kong police and counterparts from the mainland are to mount joint operations to crack down on people trafficking. Photo: Handout

Police said they had noticed an increase in arrests of non-Chinese people trying to get into Hong Kong illegally since August, largely using sea routes from the mainland.

A total of 119 people from South Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan were arrested in nine incidents between October 22 and November 6.

The force also revealed that special operations had also been carried out to crack down on cross-border human trafficking syndicates.

Police said the operations were designed to stop the flow of illegal entries at source.

The force promised continued cooperation with other departments, strengthened law enforcement and more joint operations to combat unauthorised entry to the city.

Hong Kong asks mainland China to help stem increase in illegal arrivals

Organising passage to the city for illegal entrants is punishable by up to 14 years in jail and a HK$5 million (US$639,000) fine.

Sources said the suspects taken into custody in the past few weeks could have taken advantage of relaxed travel restrictions by mainland authorities for visitors from South Asian countries.

The insiders added the eased rules allowed people to travel to the mainland before they were taken to coastal areas in Guangdong, where “snakeheads” smuggled them to Hong Kong by speedboat.

In one of the recent cases, 13 men from Bangladesh were last Tuesday found stranded on Shek Kwu Chau island in the city’s southwestern waters.

One source said preliminary inquiries suggested the men flew from Bangladesh to Kunming city in Yunnan province on October 25 and took a train to Guangzhou.

19 Pakistanis arrested over illegal entry to Hong Kong, some in island rescue

The source added the group was driven to the coast last Monday night and smuggled across the border in a speedboat.

“A preliminary investigation suggested each member of the group had paid around HK$56,000 to a middleman for their illegal journey from Bangladesh to Hong Kong,” he said.

Latest figures from the force show 1,241 illegal immigrants were arrested in the city in the first 10 months of the year.

They included 968 people from countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Southeast Asia’s Vietnam.

The other 273 were mainland Chinese.

There were 1,155 illegal entrants in the whole of last year, 673 from the mainland and 482 from elsewhere.

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