Police in the southern coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau have proposed that four people be charged with organizing illegal emigration services to Vietnamese nationals seeking to go to Australia.
The police on Friday said Pham Van Tuong, 59, began smuggling people out of Vietnam in April of last year, sending six to Australia by boat before his service was busted by local coast guards on June 21.
Tuong's syndicate also included Nguyen Dinh Kinh, 47, and Nguyen Ngoc Loi, 43. Tran Van Gioi, 47, was paid VND500 million (US$24,000) to captain the ship for each trip. All were arrested at the time, while their 25 clients were each fined VND3.5 million ($168).
Investigations found that the group's initial clients were charged $6,000, but that the fee was later raised to between $8,000 and $13,000. Many of the emigrants came from Tuong's hometown in the central province of Nghe An and neighboring Ha Tinh Province.
It found that the group had organized another voyage in early May last year to send around 50 people to Australia, but the trip failed due to rough seas.
A court in Ba Ria-Vung Tau in June last year sentenced six other people to up to 77 months in jail each for smuggling people into Australia in 2010 and 2011.
Vietnam's Penal Code states that organizing illegal emigration is punishable by between two and seven years in jail, but the penalty can be raised to 12 years for repeat offenders.
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