In midst of epidemic prevention efforts, people smugglers attempt to land 31 Vietnam nationals

Police and coast guard officers seized a boat and arrested two Taiwanese and 31 Vietnamese nationals off the coast of Pingtung County, yesterday March 21.

The people-smuggling bust comes at a time when Taiwan is ramping up efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on the entry of foreign nationals, and compulsory quarantines for residents returning from abroad.

A joint police and coast guard task force responded after receiving intelligence about the people smuggling operation involving a group of people on a fishing boat.

Three coastal patrol vessels were dispatched to search for the vessel. At around 4:00 pm yesterday, the boat was located around 10.6 nautical miles from Xiaoliuqiu Island.

A fishing boat carrying illegal immigrants from Vietnam. Picture: Taiwan Coast Guard.

The 31 Vietnamese nationals, consisting of 24 men and 7 women, were laying on the deck of the boat, and crowded inside the small cabin.

Coast guard officers donned medical protective clothing, boarded the vessel, and arrested the Vietnamese passengers and Taiwanese crew. The arrested were disinfected, had their temperature taken, and were asked if they had fever or other symptoms.

The Vietnamese nationals were put into quarantine as unspecified locations. The Taiwanese men were interviewed by prosecutors via video conference, then charged on suspicion of violating immigration laws.

Illegal immigrants being processed under epidemic prevention precautions.
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