Two Chinese men have been charged in the US Virgin Islands with operating an illegal immigrant smuggling network that brought Chinese nationals to the Islands through Cambodia, France and the eastern Caribbean.
According to The Orlando Sentinel, Chan See Ming, 47, a businessman in Washington, and Chan Hak So have been charged with setting up the operation to smuggle Chinese immigrants to the territory.
Chan See Ming was advised of his rights last Wednesday in federal court in the capital Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas island.
Chan Hak So has not been taken into custody, said Assistant US Attorney Hugh Mabe .
Following Municipal and Military Police operations, over 600 illegal Chinese immigrants were arrested in Phnom Penh and later deported back to China in October and November.
The arrests fueled allegations that a highly-organized operation to smuggle illegal Chinese immigrants to the West was operating in Cambodia with the assistance of powerful officials.
Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara and military and police sources alleged in September that a top police official and a Cambodian diplomat posted overseas operated the highly-lucrative immigrant-smuggling operation with the assistance of Chinese partners based in Phnom Penh.
With Chea Sophara at the helm, a rash of arrests were made and many Chinese were deported. However, no local government officials have ever been charged in what many consider a local smuggling ring.
A police task force set up to investigate the smuggling operation has not yet made arrests, and the US embassy has shown some concern for the smuggling, its shores being one of the main destinations of immigrants.