Monday, May 9, 2011

9 Immigrants Smuggled Aboard Queen Mary 2

New York Daily News: A Malaysian man smuggled illegal Chinese immigrants into Brooklyn in style - aboard the ultraposh Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, federal authorities say.

Five women and four men were taken into custody last month after the QM2 - touted as the most luxurious ocean liner ever built - arrived at the New York Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.

The accused smuggler, Fatt Kwee Wong, told agents he was paid $3,000 for each of the nine passengers by an unidentified person in China. The illegal immigrants also forked over $500 each when they boarded the ship in Dubai, according to court papers.

A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it is believed to be the first case of its kind in the New York area. The illegal immigrants were not stowaways - their names appeared on the boat's manifest - and they had access to the ship's spectacular amenities. The QM2 boasts a Canyon Ranch spa, Royal Court Theater, planetarium, gourmet restaurants and the "largest ballroom at sea," according to the Cunard website.

Wong carried a Japanese passport and aroused suspicion at the immigration checkpoint when he was stumped when asked the names of his nine companions. A fingerprint check showed Wong, 49, was wanted for smuggling aliens into Bermuda, court records show.Wong, who speaks Mandarin and claims he works as a welder in Malaysia, was ordered held without bail. His lawyer declined comment.

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