Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chinese restaurant raid turns up human-trafficking ring

Chinese restaurant raid turns up human-trafficking ring


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A raid of Chinese restaurants across Germany has uncovered a gang of human traffickers who brought more than 1,000 Chinese "specialty cooks" into the country. Prosecutors are investigating charges of exploitation.
A dish of Chinese noodles with chopsticks
Many of the cooks smuggled in worked excessively long hours for little pay
The Hanover state prosecutor's office has opened an investigation into charges of people-trafficking and exploitation, after a raid on restaurants uncovered evidence in four German states.
For years, the traffickers are said to have smuggled more than 1,000 Chinese into Germany and to have exploited them in abusive working conditions.
A raid on 180 Chinese restaurants and apartments in the states of Lower Saxony, Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia uncovered evidence of the trafficking.
Cooks lived "in servitude"
Back in March, police had arrested two Chinese men and a woman in Hanover. The trio had founded a firm to orchestrate their smuggling activities, according to criminal investigations.
Pot of snake soup in Hong Kong
Those who couldn't cook learned fast, prosecutors said
The three Chinese held in custody - aged 46, 38 and 35 - are thought to be the chief operators in the trafficking ring.
"They made sure all the forms were correct," said spokesman for the Hanover State Office of Criminal Investigation, Frank Federau.
Chinese emigrants paid 10,000 euros ($14,000) for a valid visa and work contract as so-called specialty cooks. But upon arrival in Germany they were forced to surrender their passports, essentially putting them in "debt servitude," Federau said.
For quick learners only
The immigrants were made to work as chefs for up to 80 or 90 hours a week, at an hourly wage of 3 euros ($4.23). Their lack of German language skills made it difficult for the immigrants to complain.
Those who were not actually trained cooks "learned fast," said Federau.
For their part, the German smugglers and their helpers in China made "revenues in the millions," he added.
Synchronized raids
The synchronized raids made use of more than 1,300 police and customs officials in the four German states. According to officials the raids turned up a lot of evidence, mostly in the form of paperwork and computer data.
jen/AFP/dpa/Reuters
Editor: Susan Houlton