Chinese handicapped street performance group arrested in Taiwan

2018/04/04 19:52:42 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Photo courtesy of National Immigration Agency

Photo courtesy of National Immigration Agency

Taipei, April 4 (CNA) Members of a street performance group from China, including 20 handicapped persons, were arrested by law enforcement authorities Monday and held at an immigration detention center, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) said Wednesday.

Although it is not uncommon to see handicapped persons begging or busking on the streets of Taiwan and in traditional markets, the NIA's New Taipei Specialized Operations Brigade said it set up a task force to investigate reports of lip syncing performers last year.

After checking the visas status of the Chinese handicapped citizens found performing in Taiwan, the brigade discovered many had overstayed their visas and that a Chinese man identified only by his surname Yang, 50, was controlling the group from China, officials said.

Seventeen members of the group were found to have entered Taiwan on tourist visas as independent tourists, while another three came to receive medical treatment, it noted, adding that the group could earn an estimated NT$4 million (US$137,000) per month performing.

It was also discovered that Yang's 35-year-old girlfriend, surnamed Feng, was in Taiwan and in charge of the group's bills and bookkeeping. A Taiwanese accomplice identified as Fan was accused of transporting the group to beg or perform in different cities, while also helping them rent apartments, the brigade said.

Feng and Fan were apprehended in New Taipei by local prosecutors on April 2, at which time sound equipment, speakers, cellphones and account books were also seized.

Feng in now being detained and interrogated by New Taipei prosecutors, while the performers who overstayed their visas are being held at an immigration detention center. Fan was released on bail of NT$10,000.

Prior to coming to Taiwan, members of the group were detained on numerous occasions in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, the brigade said.

The case was turned over to New Taipei prosecutors for further investigation and Chinese authorities have been informed and asked to detain Yang.

(By Wang Hung-kuo and Flor Wang)

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