Tightly organised syndicates are smuggling people over the Chinese border to Hong Kong, mainland and Hong Kong police have said.

The police forces said that, from February 2016 until last month, police in Guangdong, Guangxi, and Yunnan cracked over 290 cases of illegal immigration from the mainland to Hong Kong, according to local media.

Photo: iCable screenshot.

They arrested over 67,000 people, including individuals who crossed borders illegally from Southeast Asia and South Asia, people working illegally, and people who stayed beyond visa limits.

They have also busted more than 50 people-smuggling groups, arrested over 3,400 foreign stowaways and over 1,000 traffickers, the officials said.

The Hong Kong police also arrested over 803 foreign persons who entered Hong Kong illegally, a 59 per cent drop from the previous year.

Photo: iCable screenshot.

They made the comments in Shenzhen after Chinese police held a meeting on tackling illegal border-crossing with their Hong Kong counterparts.

Since last February, police have been working with mainland authorities to tackle people-smuggling. During the meeting, the two sides came to an agreement to extend the operation until July 2019.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu also attended the meeting.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu. File Photo: GovHK.

Mainland police said that people-smuggling activities to Hong Kong via the mainland are still actively ongoing, and that syndicates are organised and show a clear division of labour, describing the groups as tightly organised and forming an industrial chain of people-smuggling.

Yin Chengjun, director of the Border Control Department of the National Ministry of Public Security, said: “some of the snakeheads in the mainland are mainly responsible for providing support and for transportation, creating an integrated production chain for organised people-smuggling.”

He added that foreigners who illegally enter Hong Kong or the mainland mainly intend to work illegally, and bring problems such as theft and drug use, threatening stability and security.

They said police on both sides of the border would increase controls by sea and land, crackdowns at the source, and exchange of intelligence.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.