Police say 39 victims found dead in truck near London were Chinese

Police say 39 victims found dead in truck near London were Chinese
By Simon Dawson

GRAYS, England (Reuters) – Police were given extra time on Thursday to question a driver arrested on suspicion of murder after 39 people, believed to be Chinese nationals, were found dead in a refrigerated truck near London, in an investigation focused on human trafficking.

Officers searched three properties in the County Armagh area of Northern Ireland. The driver has not been formally identified but a source familiar with the investigation said he was Mo Robinson from the Portadown area of the British province.

Paramedics and police found the bodies of 31 men and eight women on Wednesday in a truck container on an industrial estate at Grays in Essex, about 20 miles (32 km) east of London.

For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in trucks, often from the European mainland. In the biggest tragedy, 58 Chinese were found dead in a tomato truck in 2000 at the port of Dover.

“We read with heavy heart the reports about the death of 39 people in Essex,” the Chinese Embassy said in a statement, adding further clarification was being sought with police.

Essex police said their priority was ensuring dignity for the victims during their inquiry.

“Each of the 39 people must undergo a full coroner’s process to establish a cause of death before we move on to attempting to identify each individual within the trailer,” police said in a statement, saying that would be a time-consuming operation.

Police were given permission from local magistrates to detain the 25-year-old driver for an additional 24 hours on Thursday.

The trailer part of the truck arrived at Purfleet docks in Essex, southern England, from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge – as did the vehicle involved in 2000.

“ULTIMATE DREAM”

Its red cab unit, which had “Ireland” emblazoned on the windscreen along with the message “The Ultimate Dream”, entered Britain via Holyhead in north Wales, having started its journey in Dublin, police said.

Irish company Global Trailer Rentals said it owned the trailer and had rented it out on Oct. 15 from its depot in County Monaghan at a rate of 275 euros ($305) a week, Irish broadcaster RTE said. The firm said it was unaware of what it was to be used for, RTE added.

The discovery of the bodies was made at 1.40 a.m. just over an hour after the container arrived in Purfleet, not far from the industrial estate in Grays.

The vehicle has been moved to a secure site at nearby Tilbury Docks where forensic work can take place. Officials have set up a book of condolence at civic offices in Grays.

The National Crime Agency, which targets serious and organized crime, said it was helping the investigation and working urgently to identify any gangs involved.

Shaun Sawyer, national spokesman for British police on human trafficking, said thousands of people were seeking to come to the United Kingdom illegally. While they were able to rescue many of those smuggled in, Britain was perceived by organized crime as a potentially easy target for traffickers.

“You can’t turn the United Kingdom into a fortress. We have to accept that we have permeable borders,” he told BBC radio.

The head of the Road Haulage Association said traffickers were “upping their game” and closer cooperation with European nations was needed, albeit that may be complicated by Britain’s potential exit from the European Union.

“There is simply not enough being done in terms of security, in terms of the protection of vehicles across Europe,” Richard Burnett told BBC TV.

 

(Writing by Michael Holden; Editing by Janet Lawrence amd Andrew Cawthorne)

U.S. accuses Chinese citizens of hacking law firms, insider trading

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore i

By Nate Raymond

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Three Chinese citizens have been criminally charged in the United States with trading on confidential corporate information obtained by hacking into networks and servers of law firms working on mergers, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Iat Hong of Macau, Bo Zheng of Changsha, China, and Chin Hung of Macau were charged in an indictment filed in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud and computer intrusion.

Prosecutors said the men made more than $4 million by placing trades in at least five company stocks based on inside information from unnamed law firms, including about deals involving Intel Corp and Pitney Bowes Inc.

The men listed themselves in brokerage records as working at information technology companies, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in a related civil lawsuit.

Hong, 26, was arrested on Sunday in Hong Kong, while Hung, 50, and Zheng, 30, are not in custody, prosecutors said. Defense lawyers could not be immediately identified.

The case is the latest U.S. insider trading prosecution to involve hacking, and follows warnings by U.S. officials that law firms could become prime targets for hackers.

“This case of cyber meets securities fraud should serve as a wake-up call for law firms around the world: you are and will be targets of cyber hacking, because you have information valuable to would-be criminals,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said.

Prosecutors said that beginning in April 2014, the trio obtained inside information by hacking two U.S. law firms and targeting the email accounts of law firm partners working on mergers and acquisitions.

Prosecutors did not identify the two law firms, or five others they said the defendants targeted.

But one matched the description of New York-based Cravath, Swaine Moore LLP, which represented Pitney Bowes in its 2015 acquisition of Borderfree Inc, one of the mergers in question.

The indictment said that by using a law firm employee’s credentials, the defendants installed malware on the firm’s servers to access emails from lawyers, including a partner responsible for the Pitney deal.

Cravath declined to comment. In March, Cravath confirmed discovering a “limited breach” of its systems in 2015.

Prosecutors also accused the defendants of trading on information stolen from a law firm representing Intel on the chipmaker’s acquisition of Altera Inc in 2015.

Intel’s merger counsel on the deal was New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. The law firm declined to comment.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she was aware of the reports about the case but knew nothing about it.

The case is U.S. v. Hong et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-cr-360.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Richard Chang)