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The US Attorney’s office has announced that two Chinese citizens will serve jail time after attempting to smuggle 14 individuals from Saipan to Guam in 2023.

According to the US Attorney’s office, “The defendants were among 12 PRC nationals and two US citizen crew members rescued by US Navy helicopters during an attempted illegal transit from Saipan to Guam in July of 2023.  Their boat, overloaded and poorly equipped for rough seas, ran out of fuel near the island of Rota and drifted for more than 14 hours before the crew radioed a distress call.” Their rescue was ultimately facilitated by the US Coast Guard and Navy.


YongBing Tang, 54 and ChangCai Dong, 61, each received a 30-day jail sentence, a year of supervised release, and a $100 fine. According to the US Attorney’s office, both will be deported to China after serving their sentences.

Why Guam?
In 2023, there were 27 instances of Chinese nationals attempting to enter Guam illegally from Saipan. This activity is part of a broader trend observed since 2022, with a total of 118 attempts recorded. The main reasons for these illegal crossings include seeking better economic opportunities and applying for asylum. Many of these individuals legally enter Saipan through a visa waiver program and subsequently try to reach Guam, often paying high fees to smugglers for the journey

U.S. Attorney Shawn Anderson called the case an “abuse” of the visa waiver program, stating it “creates substantial risk to those involved in these voyages and their rescuers.” He added, “Our federal and local partners will continue to target unlawful travel between the CNMI and Guam.”

Lucia Cabral-DeArmas, Acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Honolulu added, “Those who seek to undermine the rule of law, and in the process endanger the lives of their victims for the sake of profit, will be held accountable. It’s fortunate no lives were lost, and HSI will continue to exercise our investigative expertise to protect human rights.”


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