A Shanghai man who had helped hundreds of Chinese travel abroad with visas based on falsified information has been given a 14-year prison sentence. 30-year-old Jiang Yi is accused of running one of the country’s biggest human smuggling rings so far discovered.
Jiang Yi argued that he was simply helping his customers apply for visas and did not know their real motives for traveling overseas. Many of his clients were farmers from nearby provinces who traveled to Europe and the U.S. under the pretense that they were business managers participating in specialized events.
His lawyer told the International Herald Tribune that Jiang Yi would be appealing the court decision:
“I strongly support his decision to appeal,” Zhai said. “Jiang is not guilty of human smuggling. They all had legal passports and visas.”
According to the court, Jiang Yi ran a 24-member gang out of a virtual office in the Jin Mao Tower in Pudong. For costs that ranged between 30,000 to 80,000 yuan, they helped 166 people gain visas from between 2002 and 2008. Over 300 other applications had failed, though customers who failed to complete their trips were refunded money.