U.S. COAST GUARD BOARDS TWO VESSELS OFF GUAM WITH ILLEGAL CHINESE IMMIGRANTS ABOARD

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HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (January 11, 1999 - PIDP/CPIS/Hulsen)---Personnel from two U.S. Coast Guard cutters boarded two foreign vessels 15 miles south of Guam Saturday and found about 60 undocumented migrants from the People's Republic Of China on board.

The ships were first sighted by a C-130 Coast Guard airplane from Honolulu during a routine law enforcement patrol within Guam's EEZ, or 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

Coast Guard spokesperson in Honolulu Sarah Foster-Snell said the vessels appeared to be in very poor condition and were steaming together towards Guam. No fishing equipment was visible, she said, and neither vessel was displaying any flags indicating their country of origin.

Guam Coast Guard personnel, who were informed of the situation, send the cutters Sassafras and Galveston Island to interdict and board the vessels.

It was discovered during the boarding, said Foster-Snell, that the vessels were low in food but the passengers were in fair condition.

The ships then were escorted by the Coast Guard to Guam for local and federal processing.

The incident follows several other cases on Guam involving the smuggling of undocumented migrants from China to Guam. Since April 1998, over 250 such persons have been taken into custody.

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