This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001526
DEPT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON DEPT FOR INL/AAE AND EAP/TC BEIJING PASS CHENGDU HONG KONG FOR DHS
FROM AIT KAOHSIUNG BRANCH OFFICE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SNAR KCRM ASEC TW TIP SUBJECT: MILITARY OFFICERS INVOLVED IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND LOAN-SHARKING SCANDAL
Sensitive but Unclassified - Please protect accordingly.
1. (SBU) Summary: A year-long investigation into a illegal loan-sharking operation run by two Taiwan Army officers has resulted in a number of arrests and revealed additional involvement in prostitution, human trafficking and illegal weapons sales, according to local prosecutors. Kaohsiung prosecutors provided AIT/K with details of the charges, but said the investigation continues and they anticipate further evidence of the ring's involvement in a range of illegal activities. End summary.
2. (SBU) Prosecutor Lo Shui-lang of the Kaohsiung Prosecutors' Office confirmed to AIT/K on March 29 local media reports of arrests of two Taiwan Army officers for loan-sharking and other crimes. He noted that the arrests had come after an investigation that had lasted over one year. The investigation had begun in late 2003 after Tainan authorities arrested a suspect for illegal possession of a handgun in an arms sales investigation and the suspect had confessed and provided information to a loan-sharking and smuggling ring that involved military officers.
3. (SBU) The subsequent investigation had finally identified Taiwan Army Major Chang Shou-chung as a leader of the ring. Chang had opened pawnshops in southern Taiwan to serve as fronts for underground illegal loans to his Army colleagues as well as individuals in local criminal gangs. Addition evidence indicated that Chang also had sold a modified pistol and some bullets to another suspect, Taiwan Army Captain Lee Yi-hung. Local law enforcement authorities arrested Chang and Lee on March 27.
4. (SBU) Searches of Chang Shou-chung's residence turned up account books which indicated that, in addition to the loan- sharking operation, Chang was involved with smuggling rings that trafficked foreign women for prostitution purposes. While so far Chang has only admitted to involvement in one case of trafficking women for prostitution, prosecutors believe he was involved in many more. Chang admitted involvement in one recent case in which three Mainland Chinese women had been found engaging in prostitution and had been repatriated to China. Confronted with evidence of ties to this case, Chang had admitted that he had brought the three to Taiwan using sham marriages, working with a criminal in China named "Duan", and had forced the three into prostitution. Chang said he had earned NT2,400 for each customer the three women served. After police had stumbled onto the women and sent them back to China, Chang told prosecutors, he had had to reimburse the smuggling ring NT 400,000 (USD 13,000) for losses.
5. (SBU) Chang and his cohorts are also being investigated for involvement in illegal weapons sales. While conducting a search at Captain Lee's residence, law enforcement officials seized some stolen chambers and firing mechanisms for M-16 rifles, which Lee claimed he had bought from Chang. The military determined that the parts had been used in the local manufacture of automatic weapons.
6. (SBU) Prosecutor Lo told AIT/K that the investigation into all aspects of the cases continued. Lo said that the cases were initiated by Tainan Police, but had been passed to the Kaohsiung Prosecutors Office because the suspects' residences and criminal activities took place in Kaohsiung. Lo added that the cases of the two suspects have been split, with Lee being handled by the Army's military justice system and Chang, who was to retire on April 1, by the Kaohsiung Prosecutor's Office. The split in the cases was because Lee was active duty and, in addition to other charges, has been charged with theft of military ammunition and weapons parts. Chang, on the other hand, is primarily charged with illegal loan sharking, trafficking in persons, and arms sales, all of which would normally fall under the jurisdiction of public prosecutors' offices.
7. (U) AIT/K will continue to follow developments in the cases, especially with regard to organized trafficking in persons.