Customs busts alleged child smuggling ring

July 30, 2008 2:14:07 PM PDT
Authorities say a child smuggling ring was stopped by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents at Newark Airport earlier this month. Officers arrested 41-year-old Yi Hsin Le and 45-year-old Chen Chih-Yuan Lan at Newark Liberty International Airport on July 20. Prosecutors say both are Taiwanese nationals who were attempting to smuggle children from Hong Kong into New York.

Three children from China were reportedly involved in the smuggling attempt. All of the children traveled to Hong Kong from the Fujian Province in China, according to officials.

"Child smuggling is a dangerous business," said Reginald Manning, acting director of field operations in New York for the CBP. "In many cases, children are being smuggled into the United States to join family members who are already here illegally. Very often, these children may be in the custody of the smugglers for extended amounts of time. Unfortunately, in some cases, the children suffer both mental and physical abuse at the hands of the smugglers in order to ensure that they do not alert authorities to their true identities."

Through the combined efforts of CBE and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), authorities say the child smuggling operation was stopped.

The officers were reportedly able to ascertain that the men were not relatives of the children and took them into custody.

The children are being cared for by the Domestic Relations Office and will be taken to Chicago and put in the hands of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Officials there will try to contact relatives of the children.

The alleged smugglers are facing prosecution in Federal court in downtown Newark. Connections to other illegal aliens already in the U.S. were also discovered and are being investigated by ICE, officials said.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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