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6 Illegal Alien Smugglers Convicted

March 14, 1998

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Six people linked to Asian organized crime were convicted of arranging the smuggling of 280 Chinese aliens who paid up to $30,000 to sneak into the United States.

The immigrants were expected to work off their debt in brothels or other gang-run operations in New York, prosecutors said.

The six people convicted Friday were the last of 23 reputed Asian gang members charged with smuggling, conspiracy and related crimes. All but one have been convicted or pleaded guilty, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Gruel said.

Those convicted Friday face up to four years in prison. They may also be deported to their native countries after serving their prison terms, prosecutors said.

One of the four, John Luong, the alleged leader of a San Francisco-based Vietnamese gang, also faces separate, unrelated charges.

The defendants denied involvement in the smuggling ring during the nine-week trial. Maureen Kallins, Luong’s lawyer, said she would appeal.

The immigrants were packed into the cargo hold of the Angel, which arrived at Moss Landing in June 1993, and the Pelican, which landed nearby at Half Moon Bay the same day.

All the passengers were captured immediately, except for 19 who were found in New York. Apart from a few who were granted political asylum, all were deported, Gruel said.

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