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Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 07:16 GMT
China arrest in Dover deaths inquiry
Kent Police
Police collect evidence from the lorry
By the BBC's Adam Brookes in Beijing

Chinese police have arrested a man suspected of organising the passage to Britain of the 58 illegal immigrants found dead at Dover last June.

The official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, said Chen Xiaokong was arrested last Tuesday in the southern province of Fujian.

The 54 men and four women suffocated as they hid in the back of a sealed container lorry carrying tomatoes.

They were found dead when the vehicle arrived at Dover from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge on 18 June. Only two people survived.

According to the official report, Chen headed a snakehead gang.

Lucrative

These are the gangs that run the complex and lucrative smuggling operations that spirit Chinese illegal immigrants to the West.

Chen was reportedly arrested in a discotheque in Fujian, the home province of the illegal immigrants who died.

The report also indicated he was involved with drugs but it gave no further details about him or what charges he might face.

The Dutch driver of the lorry, 32-year-old Perry Wacker from Rotterdam, has been charged with manslaughter and smuggling offences.

Chef You Yi, 38, and 29-year-old female interpreter Ying You, of Rivenhall Gardens, South Woodford, Essex, are also jointly charged with conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into the UK.

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Chinese gangs' cruel trade
19 Jun 00 | Europe
Trafficking: A human tragedy
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