Authorities in Vietnam’s coastal Ha Tinh province have filed charges against seven human traffickers accused of involvement in a smuggling ring that sent 39 migrant workers to their deaths in a refrigerated truck found abandoned in Britain in October.
All seven were charged on Feb. 20 with “organizing other people to go abroad illegally” under Article 349 of Vietnam’s penal code, with six now under arrest in Vietnam and one being sought in China by police, according to reports in Vietnamese state media.
Those named as defendants in the case include Tran Dinh Truong, 35; Nguyen Thi Thuy Hoa, 36; Van Van Ky, 58; Vo Van Ho, 68; Le Van Hue, 53; Nguyen Quoc Thanh, 26; and Nguyen Thi Thuy Diem, 30, who currently lives in China.
Among the 39 found suffocated on Oct. 23 in the smugglers’ truck was Pham Thi Tra My, 26, who prosecutors say had paid Nguyen Thi Thuy Diem and his brother Nguyen Quoc Thanh around U.S.$22,000 to help her get to Britain by way of China and France, the indictment said.
All of those charged had previously taken as many as 67 Vietnamese workers abroad to work illegally in European countries, according to media reports.
Many Vietnamese households send their children abroad to make a living, especially through illegal labor, often amassing crushing debt to pay for air tickets and smugglers’ fees.
Beyond poor job prospects at home, government repression of Catholics and environmental disasters also drive immigration, Vietnamese analysts say.
Ha Tinh and Nghe An province, from which some of the migrants who died had traveled, were the regions hardest hit by an April 2016 toxic spill by a Taiwan-owned steel plant that contaminated more than a hundred miles of coastline in four coastal provinces, leaving thousands without work.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huynh Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.