Industrial parks a haven for fugitives

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High demand for workers in industrial parks allow criminals to assume new identities and hide from the law

Traffic moves down a street in an industrial park in
Binh Duong Province, 17km north of Ho Chi Minh City. Police in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and HCMC say high demand for workers and lax scrutiny of applications have made industrial parks in their localities become the refuge for a number of fugitives from other areas.

Le Thanh Tinh was a quiet, hardworking, skilled worker at a factory that made iron gates in the southern province of Dong Nai, 35 kilometers to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

Almost three years after he began working for the company, the long arm of the law caught up with this rather unassuming young man.

Dong Nai police arrested him last June and it turned out that Tinh was in fact Le Thanh Tung, a 28-year-old native of the south-central province of Phu Yen, where, in February 2008, he had allegedly murdered his wife.

Further details of the case have not been made available, but it is not an isolated one.

Police in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and HCMC say industrial parks in their localities have become the refuge for a number of fugitives from other areas.

High demand for workers and lax scrutiny of applications are factors that have aided fugitives trying to hide from the law, police say.

Dong Nai Province, where 32 industrial zones with thousands of operating factories and companies are based, has been targeted in particular.

According to local police, 111 wanted criminals from other localities have been arrested in the province since July 2010.

Elsewhere, in Binh Duong Province, which also neighbors HCMC, Ha Van Duong, a 21-year-old native of the northern mountainous province of Lang Son, was arrested last November at the P.W. Timber Company. He had fled Lang Son following the alleged murder of a man in a group fight last October and found work in Binh Duong under the name of Vi Van Duong.

Likewise, Bui Thi Hong Dao, 45, who was wanted by police in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang for child trafficking and pimping since 2007, was arrested in Binh Duong Province last October.

Binh Duong police were informed by their counterparts in Hau Giang that Dao had been recruited by a local timber production company and was living with her daughter in a hired apartment.

The police did not have Dao's address, but were lucky to find the mobile number of her daughter.

A police officer then approached the daughter by texting and calling her, saying he wanted to make friends with her.

After their second date, the girl invited the cop to her apartment, where she introduced him to Dao, who masqueraded as her aunt. Police later arrested Dao at the apartment.

Fake applications

Last July, Binh Duong police arrested Le Dinh Thao, a 27-year-old native of Kien Giang Province, who had allegedly committed a child rape in 2005.

After local police had issued an arrest warrant for Thao, he along with his father, mother and sister, fled to Binh Duong where they changed their names and rented an apartment in Tan Uyen District.

They applied for work at some companies in local industrial parks. Thao was arrested while he was working at the K.D Timber Manufacturing Company in Tan Uyen District under the name of Le Dinh Khang.

According to the company's human resources (HR) department, it was actually not difficult to detect fake job applications but the personnel staff usually did not bother to check them, given the huge demand for workers.

"Furthermore, most of the workers coming from other provinces use fake job applications or other people's applications because it takes a lot of time and effort to make an authentic one," said a HR officer of the company.

The HR department of a foreign-invested company in Dong Nai Province's Tam Phuoc Industrial Zone had the same explanation for why they did not detect the fact that Doan Thi Hong Anh Dao, a 27-year-old woman, had joined work using the false name of Doan Thi Mai.

Dao, hailing from the northern province of Thanh Hoa, had been wanted since 2003 in connection with a fatal hit and run accident. She had allegedly crashed into a person on her motorbike and fled the scene, the police said.

She made her way to Dong Nai Province, where she bought fake certificates and changed her name to apply for a job at the aforementioned foreign-invested company.

"As we were desperately in need of footwear workers, we did not check their résumés carefully," said the head of the company's HR department.

"The making of fake job applications is becoming more widespread and sophisticated and it is very hard to spot them," he added.

It is quite easy to buy fake job applications at some job agencies along Bui Van Hoa Street in Dong Nai's Bien Hoa Town. Workers who buy these application forms will have new names with complete verification seals.

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Nguyen Van Nem, chief of the Binh Duong Police Department's Wanted Criminals Division, said his force had arrested 127 wanted criminals between April and December last year. Most of the criminals used fake names and job applications to work at factories and companies in the province.

"It costs only VND80,000-100,000 (US$3.8-4.7) to get a fake application form with a health certificate, a résumé, a copied identity card, a residency certificate, and so on," Nem said.

"Companies should be more careful in scrutinizing job applications in the future," he added.

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