11 illegal Vietnamese migrant workers have been caught hiding in a cargo truck in Taiwan’s Taitung County.
The Central News Agency reported Monday that nine of the immigrants were among the 152 who went missing in a dramatic vanishing act last month, citing county police.
The 11 people were discovered when the cargo truck was stopped on Heping Road in Pingnan Township. Police got suspicious on detecting movement under the black tarp that the truck was covered with.
One of the 11 had absconded from his workplace, one woman had entered Taiwan illegally on a tourist visa and the other nine were the aforementioned ‘missing’ tourists. The 11 Vietnamese nationals were not able to provide proper identification documents, local police reported.
They told police they were on their way to do some weeding on a farm when they were detained. They were dressed in farming work clothes with rain boots, police said.
However, initial investigations have revealed that most of the detained people weren’t hired by local farmers, but by brokers who rented land for planting, police said.
Last month, news of the 152 Vietnamese tourists who ‘vanished’ in Taiwan made global headlines, shocking the public and authorities in both Taiwan and Vietnam. They initially went to Taiwan via a special visa program with simplified procedures.
Later investigations showed several of the ‘missing’ tourists were actually looking to stay and work in Taiwan illegally.
In response, Taiwanese authorities temporarily suspended visa applications of the travel agencies responsible for the missing tourists, and shortened the length of visas issued to Vietnamese, among other measures.
As of last Sunday, 70 of the 152 Vietnamese tourists were still at large in Taiwan. Authorities have said they will be deported and banned from re-entry for an unspecified amount of time for violating Taiwan’s Immigration Law.
In recent years, Taiwan has emerged as a promising destination for Vietnamese workers looking for jobs overseas. Last year, Vietnam sent around 65,000 workers to Taiwan, nearly half of all the workers it sent overseas.