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  The dead are returned home
  Only two out of 60 stowaways survived a ferry crossing
 
 
  Guilty:

• A Dutch lorry driver was sentenced to 14 years in prison for his involvement in the deaths of the 58 Chinese immigrants at Dover.
• In April 2001 Perry Wacker, 33, was given eight years for conspiracy, and six years for manslaughter.
• Customs officials told the trial how they were confronted by a "sea of motionless bodies" when they searched Wacker's lorry at Dover.
 
 
 
   
Internet Links
 
 
    BBC: Conviction of Perry Wacker, who drove the lorry
 
 
    BBC: Conviction of gang members in Holland
 
 
    BBC: China mass people smuggling trial
 
 
    BBC: China: The Snakeheads
 
 
     
 
 
  Human trafficking:
The route from China


On 18 June 2000 a lorry was stopped at the port of Dover, UK. When the door was opened, two men staggered out. They were the only survivors of a consignment of people from China. Fifty-four men and four women died.

Earlier that day they had been packed into the container lorry, tomatoes had been piled in front to conceal their presence. The lorry driver then closed the only air vent to make sure that no noise would be heard from the lorry.

"The majority were young people, 19 to 29 years old," said Detective Superintendent Denis McGookin, the police officer in charge of the investigation.

"But some were much older. These were probably minders employed by the snakeheads to keep the others under control during the journey."

The survivors were able to tell their story to the police. Each had paid 20,000 to travel to the UK. The journey was a long and tortuous one, organised by local groups known as snakeheads in China.

"They started off by having ordinary Chinese passports," said DS McGookin.

"They flew from Fujian to Beijing. They were met by other snakeheads who flew them on to Belgrade. There they were stripped of their Chinese passports and given forged South Korean ones."

The journey continued by plane from Belgrade to Hungary and Paris, and then by train to Belgium, and into Holland. There they were taken to warehouses in Rotterdam, rested for a short time and then loaded into the container.

It is a well travelled route. But according to Whah Piow Tan, a London solicitor who is himself a political refugee from Singapore, the idea that this is the work of highly organised criminal gangs is overstated.
 
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