Sheldon Chinese Smuggling

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    The author(s) shown below used Federal funds provided by the U.S.

    Department of Justice and prepared the following final report:

    Document Title: Characteristics of Chinese Human Smugglers: A Cross-National Study, Final Report

    Author(s): Sheldon Zhang ; Ko-lin Chin

    Document No.: 200607

    Date Received: 06/24/2003

    Award Number: 99-IJ-CX-0028

    This report has not been published by the U.S. Department of Justice. To provide better customer service, NCJRS has made this Federally- funded grant final report available electronically in addition to traditional paper copies.

    Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect

    the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    THE CHARACTERISTICS OF CH INESE HUMAN SMUG GLERS

    ---A CROSS-NAT IONAL STUDY

    to the

    United States Department o f Justice

    Office of Justice Programs

    National Institute of Justice

    Grant

    1999-IJ-CX-0028

    Principal Investigator: Dr. Sheldon Zhang

    San Diego S tate University

    Department of Sociology

    5500 Campanile D rive

    San Diego, CA 92 182-4423

    Tel: (619) 594-5449; Fax: (619) 594-1325

    Email: [email protected]

    Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Ko-lin C hin

    School of Criminal Justice

    Rutgers University

    Newark, NJ 07650

    Tel: (973) 353-1488 (Office)

    Email: kochinfGl andronieda.rutgers.edu

    FAX : (973) 353-5896 ( F a )

    fficial position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. ew expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the his report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of his document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    FOREWORD

    This study was conducted under Grant No. 1999-IJ-CX-0028 awarded by the N ational

    Institute of Justice, Of ice of Justice Programs, United States Department of Justice.

    Points of views in this document are those

    of

    the authors and do not necessarily represent

    the o fficial position or policies of the United States government.

    SUGGESTED CITATION

    Zhang, Sheldon

    X.

    and Ko-lin Chin

    (2002). The Social Organization

    o

    Chinese Human

    Smuggling-A Cross National

    Study

    San

    Diego, CA: San Diego State University.

    pproved

    By:

    ..

    11

    fficial position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. ew expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the his report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of his document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

    We w ould like to thank the following individuals for their assistance in this study: Jorge

    Guzman, Darwin Tchin, Scott Morris, Jim Hays, and Roger Thom pson of the U.S.

    Imm igration and Naturalization Service.

    In

    particular, we w ant to thank all of our subjects who were brave enough to trust us with

    their most confidential information, and ou r fellow researchers in China whose familiarity

    with local cultural nuances greatly enhanced

    our

    understanding o f the social context

    of

    illegal hum an migration. Without these individuals for whom w e are not at liberty to

    reveal their identities, this study would not have been possible.

    We also want to thank the three anonymous reviewers from NIJ who provided

    constructive comm ents and suggestions to an earlier draft of this report, which w e have

    incorporated wherever possible in this revision.

    ...

    fficial position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. ew expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the his report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of his document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    ABSTRACT

    This study attempted to uncover the basic inner workings of Chinese human smugg ling

    organizations and their operations. Through field observations and face-to-face

    interviews in both the

    U.S.

    and China, we foun d that most hum an smugg lers (also

    known

    as snakeh eads) were otherwise ordinary citizens whose social networks provided the

    necessary connections and resources that led

    to

    a profitable trade in shipping human

    cargoes around the w orld. These individuals came from diverse backgrounds and formed

    temporary business alliances. Their organizations can be best described as ad hoc task

    forces. We did not find any godfather type of snakeh eads who dominated an entire group

    of smug glers or com mand a g roup of subordinates; but we did find that most smugg ling

    activities were highly specialized and controlled by individuals who would only deal with

    one an other through one-on-one contacts. Policy im plications and limitations of the study

    design are also discussed. This report

    is

    intended for law enforcem ent officials and policy

    makers who deal with migration and transnational hum an smuggling issues.

    fficial position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. ew expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the his report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of his document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    INTRODUCTION

    Organized C hinese human smuggling into the United S tates has been going on for more

    than two decades, although it rarely catches public attention except for a few daring

    operations that ended in disasters, such as the death of 58 illegal Chinese imm igrants

    inside a refrigerator truck while attempting to cro ss into England in Dover (W oods ,

    2000). After the United S tates established diplom atic relations with the People’s Republic

    of China in 1978, Chinese nationals qu ickly overwhelmed the legal channels to

    immigrate to the United States. Consequently, illegal channels have been developed by

    hum an smugglers to meet the demand (Chin, 1999). Hum an smugglers are called

    “snakeheads”both in China and am ong overseas Chinese communities.

    There are three main sm uggling methods, often used in com binations, to transport

    Chinese nationals into the U.S. One strategy is to travel to Mexico or Canada “by som e

    means” and then illegally cross the borders into the United States (Asimov and Burdman ,

    1993). A second strategy is to fly into the United States through transit points outside

    China. These by-air illegal immigrants m ust have fraudulent doc um ents that enable them

    to enter the country (Lorch, 1992 ). As a third strategy,

    a

    large numb er of Chinese were

    smugg led into the U.

    S.

    in fishing trawlers o r freighters (Myers, 1992; Zhang and

    Gaylord, 1996).

    Current Knowledge about Chinese Human Sm uggling

    Chinese human smugglers have been ab le to develop extensive global networks and

    transport Chinese nationals to variou s parts

    of

    the world w ith the U.S. as the most sought-

    after destination (Zhang and Gaylord, 1996 ; Zhang, 1997). Taiw an, Hong Kon g, Macao,

    2

    fficial position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. ew expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the his report has not been published by the Department. Opinions or points of his document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

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    Japan, Australia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Mexico, Panama, and Canada have

    long been plagued by the presence of large numb ers of undocum ented Chinese (Boyd,

    1992; Dubro, 1992; Eage r, 1992; Lee, 1992; Tam , 199 2; Stalk, 199 3; Gross 1996;

    Marquis and Ga min, 1999). Am erican officials claimed that the Chinese smuggling

    groups have connections in

    5

    1 countries that are either

    part

    of the transportation w eb or

    are involved in manufacturing fraudulent travel documents, or both (Freedman, 199 1;

    My dans, 1 992). Acco rding to an Am erican official, “at any given time, thirty thousand

    Chinese are stashed away in safe houses around the world, waiting for entry” (Kinkead,

    1992: 160).

    Around the globe, many countries are reported being used as intermediate stops

    on the way to the United States, among which C anada and M exico are ranked atop for

    obvious reasons. There have also been reports of Chinese nationals staging in Russia for

    several years, the true extent of w hich is not know n but figures as high a s “hundreds of

    thousands” have been reported (Thompson, 2000).’ Surinam is another major way

    station; and the Surinamese governm ent reportedly issues tens of thousands of “work

    visas” to C hinese nationals