Kaohsiung, The Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office indicted four people Tuesday, including two Vietnamese nationals, on charges ranging from document forgery to human trafficking, in the disappearance of 148 Vietnamese who arrived late last year on tourist visas.
The prosecution also issued warrants for the arrest of 27 other suspects in the high-profile case, which involved members of four tour groups who disappeared soon after their arrival at airports in Kaohsiung and Taoyuan from Vietnam on Dec. 21 and Dec. 23.
According to the indictment, a Vietnamese working for a travel agency in Hanoi, identified only by her surname Mai recruited 20 Vietnamese seeking to work in Taiwan, charged them each between US$1,000 and US$3,000 for visas, and arranged a group tour under Taiwan's "Kuan Hung" program.
Kuan Hung is a plan launched by Taiwan's Tourism Bureau Nov. 1, 2015 to encourage tourism, with measures that make it easier for tour groups from certain Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, to obtain tourist visas.
After acquiring electronic visas for her clients, Mai led a tour group of 19 to Kaohsiung Dec. 21, while one other had already taken a flight to Taichung Dec. 15.
All of them were reported missing after they left the airports, the indictment said.
Mai and her Taiwanese husband, surnamed Hsiao were found to have hidden two of the Vietnamese at their home in New Taipei for several days and had arranged for one other to work as a delivery person in Taoyuan.
Mai and Hsiao were indicted on charges of document forgery, hiding outlaws and violation of the Employment Service Act.
Meanwhile, in a related case, a Taiwanese expatriate in Vietnam surnamed Cheng and a Vietnamese working for a travel agency in Hanoi, identified by his surname Nguyen (?), were charged with recruiting 33 Vietnamese and arranging for them to fly to Taiwan Dec. 23 for work through the Kuan Hung channel at a cost of US$1,000 to US$2,500 each.
Cheng was indicted on charges of document forgery and hiding criminal suspects, while Nguyen was prosecuted for the same offenses and for violation of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, after he was found to have forced several Vietnamese women into prostitution in Taoyuan, the district prosecutors office said.
An investigation of another two tour groups allegedly involved in the disappearance of Vietnamese tourists remains underway.
According to National Immigration Agency data, 92 (57 males and 35 females) of the 148 missing Vietnamese tourists had been apprehended or had turned themselves in as of Feb. 19.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel