Three people were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for helping to hide Vietnamese tourists and secure illegal employment for them in Taiwan shortly after they entered the country last year.
The sentences handed down by the Kaohsiung District Court on the three defendants ranged from three months to three years in prison.
Mai Thi Trang, a Vietnamese woman who was working as a sales representative for a travel agency in Hanoi, was given a nine-month sentence for her role in the disappearance of 148 Vietnamese who arrived in Taiwan late last year on tourist visas.
Mai and other employees at the travel agency were accused of charging US$1,000 to US$3,000 to obtain electronic visas for Vietnamese who wanted to work in Taiwan and bringing them into the country under the “Kuan Hung” tourism program.
The Kuan Hung plan was launched in November 2015 by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau to encourage tourism through measures such as expedited e-visas for visitors in tour groups from certain Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam.
After acquiring e-visas for her clients, Mai led a tour group of 50-plus Vietnamese to Kaohsiung in December last year, but shortly after they left the airport, the Vietnamese tourists disappeared and were reported as “missing,” the court said.
Mai and her Taiwanese husband, Hsiao Yun-liang (蕭運良), were accused of helping to hide the Vietnamese and arranging employment for them as transport workers in Luchu (蘆竹), Taoyuan. Hsiao was sentenced to three months in jail.
Another Vietnamese salesman at the travel agency, identified only by the surname Nguyen, was accused of arranging to hide and secure illegal employment for 34 Vietnamese, who arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in December last year under the Kuan Hung program.
Four women in this group were taken to a hotel in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢), where they provided sexual services.
Nguyen was sentenced to three years in prison on charges that included forcing women into prostitution.
The rulings could still be appealed.
The indictments against the three people, which were made by the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office in March, included charges of document forgery, hiding criminal suspects and violating the Employment Service Act (就業服務法).