CEOL
Italy uncovers Chinese-Croat migration mafia love-link

TRIESTE, Jul 22, 2000 -- (AFP) An Italian investigation into clandestine immigration has uncovered a love-link between Chinese and Croatian Mafia crime syndicates, a judicial source said Friday.

Police and magistrates from Trieste in northern Italy said that while breaking up a ring for Asian migrants they discovered the niece of a Chinese Mafia lord was the live-in partner of a Croat crime gang boss.

According to investigators, the Chinese group and three Croat organizations were responsible for smuggling at least 5,000 Asians to western destinations in the second half of 1999 to early 2000.

In January Italian police arrested Xu Bailing, a 43-year-old Chinese Mafia chief under investigation for smuggling Bengalese. He was caught attempting to cross an Italian border post with a suitcase stuffed with dollars.

The investigators then discovered that his millionairess niece, 33-year-old Wall Xumei, was "married" to Josip Longaric, the head of a Croat syndicate. She has so far escaped arrest.

The love-linked syndicates operate a vast transport network stretching from the Far East to Kiev or Belgrade, where the migrants -- mostly from China, Bangladesh and the Philippines -- are then smuggled through Croatia or other eastern European states to the west, according to sources.

The Philippines chain was broken in August last year, and the Bangladesh route in January.



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