Friday, June 20, 2003

Alleged alien smuggler
faces charges

They appeared to be a married couple from Singapore on vacation with their 23-month-old son, but immigration inspectors had their suspicions.

So when the trio arrived at Honolulu Airport on a flight from Tokyo on Monday and questioned them, their scheme fell apart, according to prosecutors.

Investigators learned the man, Eng Soon Ng, 42, was allegedly a smuggler who was to be paid for bringing the woman, a citizen of China, into the United States illegally, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Hino. The toddler was Ng's son, and authorities said Ng is part of a smuggling scheme that uses young children to hide their real intent for coming to the United States.

Ng appeared in U.S. District Court yesterday after being charged with alien smuggling, said Hino.

The woman, Li Geng Weng, who later admitted she is not Ng's wife, is being held as a material witness. Ng's child is in Child Protective Services custody.

Ricky Murata, a senior immigration inspector with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said they have documented other instances of alien smuggling involving Chinese citizens at San Francisco International Airport in March and Baltimore International Airport last December.

The schemes allegedly involve a person who can speak both English and Chinese who escorts the alien into the United States. Because of their fluency in both languages, Singaporeans are well suited as escorts, Murata said in court documents.

Upon arrival in Honolulu, Ng presented Singaporean passports for himself, his wife and son, Murata said, but the trio was detained because Weng's passport appeared to have been tampered with, and she could not speak English like a majority of Singaporean citizens.

Upon further questioning, however, Weng admitted to being a Chinese citizen and that she was not the person named in the passport, Murata said. She said her family back home would be responsible for paying whoever brought her to the United States, but did not know how much would be paid.

When questioned, Ng admitted that a person named "Ricky" had paid for his trip to bring the woman to the United States, Murata said. He also said he flew to the United States on two previous occasions and "tagged along" with another alien to learn how to bring women to the United States.

A check of Ng's records showed he had flown to the United States on two previous occasions, Dec. 5 and March 13, with his son, authorities said. A female accompanied him on both occasions, but Ng and his son left the United States each time while the women stayed behind, authorities said. The women are believed to be in the United States illegally.

Alien smuggling is punishable by no less than three years in federal prison and no more than 10 years with fines of no more than $250,000.


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