• Kyodo

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Police detained 38 people they believe are illegal Chinese immigrants inside two vehicles, including a refrigerator truck, in Nagoya late Friday.

They were acting on a report from customs officials that a group of people had been surreptitiously whisked away from a freighter in Nagoya port.

The police said patrol cars intercepted the two vehicles on National Route 302 in Nagoya’s Nakagawa Ward, about 15 km from Yatomi pier.

The police also detained one Japanese and two Koreans in the two vehicles. They believe the three were serving as the contact for the Chinese — 24 men and 14 women from Fujian Province, aged between 17 and 43.

The police said they were told by the Nagoya customs house shortly after 10 p.m. that a group of people had disembarked from the Panamanian-flagged freighter Okra, which had berthed at Yatomi pier earlier in the day.

Most of the Chinese were found inside the cargo bay of the refrigerator truck. None of them were carrying travel documents and all carried little luggage, the police said.

The 995-ton Okra left China on June 14 and arrived at Yatomi pier at about 10:10 a.m. on Friday.

The police and port authorities said they are questioning the South Korean captain of the vessel and seven Indonesian crew members on suspicion of involvement in smuggling the Chinese into Japan.

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