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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Nine Chinese who left ship at Kona may be deported

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

The Honolulu office of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service is trying to determine whether nine men from the People's Republic of China who were arrested in Kona late last week were smuggled here or crew members who abandoned ship.

Don Radcliffe, INS Hawaii district director, said an investigation by his office should be completed this week.

The Coast Guard told Big Island police the night of Aug. 26 that a fishing boat might be grounded off the west side of the Big Island, and that several Chinese nationals might have left the vessel. At 8:45 p.m. the next day, police received a report that Chinese-speaking men had walked to a home on upper Walua Road and asked to use a telephone.

Police took the men to the Kona police station and picked up the remaining three at a shopping center the next morning.

Radcliffe said yesterday the nine men were being held at the Federal Detention Center near the airport and would be the subject of a deportation hearing in federal court once the investigation is completed.

The 80-foot, Taiwan-registered fishing vessel Hsing-Lung is returning to Taiwan under escort by a Taiwanese Coast Guard cutter, Radcliffe said.

The captain and first mate, who remained aboard the vessel after the other men left the boat, do not face any charges, Radcliffe said.

Illegal alien-smuggling incidents in which foreign nationals are dropped off close to shore are common on Guam, but virtually unheard of in Hawaiian waters, Radcliffe said.

The men who came ashore range in age from 26 to 45. All appear to be from a southern coastal province, Radcliffe said.