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Last Updated: Friday, 24 March 2006, 12:06 GMT
Cockler 'seduced by better life'
By Abbie Jones
BBC News, Liverpool

Detained illegal immigrants from China
Gangs can charge more then 20,000 to smuggle immigrants in

Seduced by the promise of a better life in the west, Chen Fu* said he paid more than 20,000 and travelled thousands of miles before he was dropped off at the side of a road in northern England.

He and 20 others, smuggled into the country by prolific human trafficking gang the snakeheads, were told to expect plentiful work, a good quality of life and enough money to send back to his family in China's Jiangxi province.

But once here, he soon realised it is a different story.

With no legal work permit he is forced to take dangerous jobs like cockling in order to survive.

"I was tricked by the snakeheads in China," he said.

Shrine at Morecambe Bay
Even if they asked me to jump off a building, I'd still do it as long as there's money for me
Chen Fu*
"They told us how wonderful it is in a foreign country.

"And they said I'd earn at least 10,000 yuan a month so I'd only have to work for a year or so to pay off the debt.

"Back in China, even if I find a job, it only pays a few hundred yuan a month. I wouldn't be able to survive on my own, let alone support the whole family."

Since coming to the UK, he has taken several jobs such as decorating houses, working in restaurants, cleaning and recently cockling, but always moved on after a couple of months to avoid being found out.

He'd heard of the tragedy in Morecambe Bay, when at least 21 cockle pickers were swept away in rising tides,

No permit

"Even though I know it's dangerous, I still had to go," he said.

"I need to eat, sleep and use money. The government doesn't give me a work permit so I can't work in restaurants.

"The bosses will kick me out.

"Even if they asked me to jump off a building, I'd still do it as long as there's money for me."

*Names have been changed

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