【英语中国】在中国坐牢的香港私家侦探

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-12-10 08:49

小艾摘要: When Irish gangster Paul Meehan was jailed three years ago for smuggling cigarettes and conspiracy to acquire drugs and guns, his conviction was hailed as a success for police in the UK and Northern I ...
When Irish gangster Paul Meehan was jailed three years ago for smuggling cigarettes and conspiracy to acquire drugs and guns, his conviction was hailed as a success for police in the UK and Northern Ireland.

Called “Wobbly Boots” for his dependence on crutches ever since he crashed a stolen car, Meehan, 39, had previous convictions in the Republic of Ireland for crimes including violent disorder and “assault causing serious harm”.

Also nicknamed Dr Coke by one Irish newspaper for fuelling the cocaine boom during the Celtic Tiger years, he played a key role in the organised gangs that have wreaked havoc in Dublin in recent years.

Meehan’s international criminal organisation extended as far as southern China, a Financial Times investigation has established. Although the detail was never revealed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, one of the force’s biggest gun and drug seizures of recent years began as an investigation into Chinese counterfeit factories.

The FT has also learned a Hong Kong private investigator who assisted in the hunt for Meehan remains in a Chinese prison, after initial efforts by the PSNI to secure his release failed.

The plight of Danny Tsang Chi-fai, 53, highlights the dangerous work done in China by private investigators, many of them with UK links. Tsang, a 20-year veteran of the Royal Hong Kong Police force, entered the investigations industry shortly after the former UK colony reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

According to documents seen by the FT, the 2008 PSNI investigation was code-named “Eclat” and cracked a criminal enterprise that dealt in counterfeit cigarettes, weapons and narcotics. The PSNI was helped by Tsang, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence in China after an apparent mix-up with local police.

The China connection highlights the global reach of cigarette-smuggling rackets. Customs officials say one in seven cigarettes smoked in Ireland – and one in 10 in the UK – are illicit, costing the two countries ¢2.5bn in lost taxes in 2011. The EU estimates that the illegal tobacco trade costs the bloc ¢10bn a year.

The counterfeit cigarettes Meehan imported came from Fujian province in southern China. As Operation Eclat unfolded, Tsang was working for a Hong Kong investigation firm that took on assignments from multinationals such as Japan Tobacco International.

When Meehan visited southern China in 2007, JTI informed the PSNI, which set up Operation Eclat. “My father did many private investigations in China and Thailand,” Tsang’s son Pakko told the FT.

“He often worked undercover, approaching the bad guys as a buyer so he could find out where their counterfeit factories were. Sometimes he would take a bag with a hidden camera.”

For Operation Eclat, Tsang posed as the head of a Chinese counterfeit cigarette factory, while an undercover UK officer acted as middleman. The PSNI was thus able to fool Meehan, who thought he was dealing with a real counterfeit cigarette ring.

In 2008, Meehan and his associates were caught in a sting by UK, Irish and Dutch authorities, which seized more than 250 handguns, 2,000 rounds of ammunition, three hand grenades, 14kg of heroin and 5kg of cannabis.

At the time of his arrest, Meehan was carrying more than ¢146,000 in cash, which was intended to purchase counterfeit cigarettes. He later pleaded guilty to 10 counts including conspiracy to possess weapons and drugs and evade duty on imported cigarettes.

When the crown court in Northern Ireland handed Meehan a 21-year prison sentence in June 2010, Mr Justice Stephens found that he had “played a significant and integral role in dealing at the highest scale of organised criminals”.

Back in China, however, Operation Eclat had gone badly wrong for Tsang. Chinese police had seized a shipment of counterfeit cigarettes bound for Northern Ireland as part of Operation Eclat and arrested Tsang. “For a long time we didn’t know why my father had been arrested. He just disappeared,” said Pakko, who like his father joined the Hong Kong police force.

The PSNI initially tried to help Tsang, according to emails seen by the FT. Between January and July 2009, PSNI officers told JTI executives they had lobbied on his behalf. “[M]eetings have been arranged in London next Thurs[day] at the Chinese embassy and at the UK Home office,” one officer wrote. “We will again make the case for Danny and confirm to the Chinese that they can travel to the UK to interview Meehan. We hope that this will persuade the Chinese to again reconsider Danny’s detention.”

The PSNI told the FT this week: “Criminal proceedings as a result of Operation Eclat have concluded in Northern Ireland. The Police Service of Northern Ireland does not comment on named individuals.”

The Home Office declined to comment, saying that questions should be directed to the PSNI. The Chinese embassy in London did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to the FT, JTI confirmed that Tsang had been identified as someone who could help the PSNI on Operation Eclat.

“PSNI undertook to inform the Chinese authorities [about Operation Eclat]?.?.?.?and to secure Chinese approval,” JTI added. “We simply do not know what, if anything, transpired between the authorities of Northern Ireland and China that would have led to [Tsang’s] arrest.”

In December 2010, six months after Meehan’s conviction, the Zhangzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Fujian sentenced Tsang to 10 years in prison for offences related to counterfeit cigarettes. The Chinese court rejected his defence that he had been involved in a PSNI operation.

“Hong Kong and China are different,” Pakko said. “As a Hong Kong police officer, I have to prove what you did and you don’t have to say anything. China is not like that.

“In China, my father has to prove that he is innocent.”

Additional reporting by Jamie Smyth in Dublin

三年前,爱尔兰黑帮分子保罗?米汗(Paul Meehan)因走私香烟和企图购买毒品与枪支而锒铛入狱,这件事被誉为英国和北爱尔兰警方的胜利。

此人自从驾驶偷来的车出了车祸后就再也离不了拐棍,因此得了个“摇摆靴子”的外号。落网时他39岁,在爱尔兰共和国早有前科,罪名包括制造骚乱和实施“攻击且造成严重伤害”。

一家爱尔兰报纸还送了他一个“可卡因先生”的绰号,因为他在“凯尔特之虎”年代为可卡因的泛滥推波助澜。在近些年大肆为害都柏林的有组织犯罪团伙中,他也是一个关键角色。

英国《金融时报》(FT)在一项调查中发现,米汗的国际犯罪组织触角远至中国南方。尽管北爱尔兰警察局(PSNI)从未公布相关细节,但那次行动是该警局近些年规模最大的枪械和毒品清剿行动之一,相关调查指向中国境内造假工厂。

FT还了解到,一名协助追捕米汗的香港私家侦探目前仍被关押在中国一所监狱里,北爱尔兰警局最初竭力争取让他获释,但没能成功。

53岁的丹尼(Danny Tsang Chi-fai)身陷囹圄的故事,说明在中国从事私家侦探工作有多危险。许多私家侦探和英国有渊源。丹尼曾为香港皇家警察效力20年,1997年香港主权移交中国后才从事私人侦探工作。

根据FT看到的文件,北爱尔兰警局2008年的调查行动代号为“荣耀”(Eclat),破获了一个从事假烟、武器和毒品交易的犯罪团伙。协助行动的丹尼似乎和中国当地警方发生了混战,之后被判刑10年。

中国和此案的关联凸显出香烟走私活动的触角已经伸展到了全球各个角落。海关官员表示,在爱尔兰,人们每抽7支香烟就有1支来源于非法渠道,英国的比例为十分之一,两国2011年相应税收损失高达25亿欧元。欧盟(EU)估计,非法烟草交易每年令欧盟损失100亿欧元。

米汗进口的假烟来自中国南方的福建省。在“荣耀”行动中,丹尼为香港一家侦探社工作,该社则是受日本烟草国际公司(JTI)等多家跨国企业的委托。

2007年米汗到中国南方时,日本烟草国际公司向北爱尔兰警局报了信,后者遂制定“荣耀”行动计划。丹尼的儿子Pakko对FT说:“我父亲在中国和泰国做过很多私家侦探工作。”

“他经常做卧底,假扮买家去跟坏人接触,以便找到他们造假工厂的位置。有时他会背一个包,里面藏一部相机。”

为了配合“荣耀”行动,丹尼假扮成中国一家假烟厂的老板,一名卧底的英国官员则充当中间人。通过这种办法,北爱尔兰警局得以麻痹米汗,米汗还以为自己在和真正的假烟生产团伙打交道。

2008年,英国、爱尔兰和荷兰当局一举抓捕了米汗及其同伙,缴获逾250支手枪、2000发弹药、3枚手榴弹、14千克海洛因和5千克大麻。

被捕时,米汗携带着超过14.6万欧元的现金,他打算用这些钱购买假烟。他后来承认了10项罪名,包括企图持有武器和毒品,以及逃避香烟进口关税。

2010年6月,北爱尔兰的刑事法庭判处米汗21年监禁,斯蒂芬斯法官(Mr Justice Stephens)裁定他“身处有组织犯罪团伙的最高层,在交易中发挥了重要而不可或缺的作用”。

但在中国,“荣耀”行动却给丹尼带来了大麻烦。在“荣耀”行动中,中国警方查获了准备运往北爱尔兰的一批假烟,并逮捕了丹尼。Pakko说:“很长时间里我们都不知道父亲为什么被捕了,他就这么消失了。”同父亲一样,Pakko也加入了香港警察队伍。

从FT掌握的电子邮件来看,北爱尔兰警局最初试图帮助丹尼。在2009年1月至7月期间,北爱尔兰警局的官员曾对日本烟草国际公司的高管们表示,他们在为丹尼奔走游说。“我们下周四在伦敦安排了会晤,分别在中国大使馆和英国内政部,”一位官员写道,“我们将再次为丹尼申辩,向中方证实他们可以来英国会见米汗。我们希望这样能说服中方重新考虑丹尼一案。”

北爱尔兰警局近日向FT表示:“和‘荣耀’行动相关的刑事诉讼已在北爱尔兰结束。北爱尔兰警局不对具名的个人置评。”

英国内政部拒绝置评,表示问题应由北爱尔兰警局回答。中国驻英国大使馆未回应置评请求。

日本烟草国际公司在发送给FT的一份声明中证实,丹尼被确定为在“荣耀”行动中协助北爱尔兰警局的人选。

“北爱尔兰警局答应向中国有关部门告知‘荣耀’行动……并争取中方同意,”日本烟草国际公司补充道,“我们确实不清楚北爱尔兰和中国当局之间是否发生了什么,最后导致丹尼被捕。”

2010年12月,在米汗被定罪6个月后,福建漳州中级人民法院以涉及假烟相关活动判处丹尼十年有期徒刑。该法院驳回了他参与北爱尔兰警局行动的辩解。

“香港和中国情况不一样,”Pakko表示,“作为香港警官,我必须证明你做了什么事,你什么都不用说。中国不是这样。”

“在中国,我父亲必须自证清白。”

杰米?史密斯(Jamie Smyth)都柏林补充报道

译者/何黎

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