Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Thirty-two Chinese stowaways were found in two cargo containers aboard the ship NYK Athena in Los Angeles after surviving a nearly two-week ocean journey from Hong Kong
The 32 would-be illegal immigrants were taken into custody on Saturday after a crane operator in Los Angeles port spotted three men climbing out of a hole cut in the side of a container. The containers with the men (28 adults and four teenagers) inside were loaded onto the ship two weeks ago in Shekou, China. The stowaways, all men, had equipped the containers with supplies and ventilation to allow them to survive the perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean. It did not appear that the vessel's crew was aware of their illegal passengers. One of the stowaways claimed to have paid 3,000 dollars for his passage to the United States, but investigators say smuggling fees for migrants from China typically range from 30,000 to 60,000 dollars. Chinese immigrants have long risked their lives by stowing away illegally on ships in a bid to enter the United States.