Triad boss jailed for people trafficking

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 12:45 26/01/2013

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A reputed South Pacific triad boss has been jailed in Fiji for 11 years and nine months on people smuggling charges.

And for “Ice Man” Zhong Qiang Zhong, aka Jason Zhong, 40, it will be his second major spell in prison after New Zealand Police helped put him away over a F$1 billion (NZ$680 million) crystal methamphetamine clandestine lab found on the outskirts of Suva, Fiji, in 2004.

Zhong’s crimes, and those of other Asians, has alarmed regional security authorities who fear Fiji’s recent decision to allow visa-free access to Chinese passport holders will open the way to underworld links.

On Friday at the High Court in Suva, Zong, who holds Fiji citizenship, was sent to jail for 11 years nine months after being convicted of two counts of sexual servitude.

A Thai and a Chinese were each jailed for 10 years for aggravated trafficking in persons, and another was jailed to nine years.

The four had brought three Thai women to Fiji last September and moved them around the country offering sexual services, mainly to tourists.

Zhong and his wife Yuen Yei-ha (also known as Diane Zhong) were the Fiji connections to a Hong Kong-based Chinese triad gang that had set up a methamphetamine lab in Suva in 2004.

New Zealand and Australian police assisted Fiji police in Operation Outrigger that over 14 months monitored the lab in Laucala Bay before moving in.

They found about a tonne of meths making it one of the world’s largest drug busts.

Zhong served almost four years jail time for that crime.

Four others from Hong Kong were also arrested in Fiji. Thirteen people in other countries were also arrested in connection with it.

New Zealand Police sent specialists after the raids to dismantle the factory.

At the time Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Potaka said it was difficult work.

"The guys here can't stay in here too long, which is a bit of a problem, because of the fumes... you've got a lot of things like acetone, which give off a very pungent smell."

In 2000 New Zealand police had taken part in a major undercover operation in Suva that led to the seizing of 351kg of heroin – making it one of the largest ever drug finds.

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