B.C. smuggler who brought in dozens of migrants gets 3.5-year sentence
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. man who pleaded guilty in a human smuggling case last year has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
Michael Kong, of Richmond, was sentenced in a Richmond, B.C. courtroom Friday.
While sentenced to 42 months, with credit for time served, Kong has just 17 months left to his sentence before being released.
He was also given a $175,000 fine.
Police also seized $175,000 from his home when he was arrested and that money will be forfeited.
Kong was accused of bringing dozens of Chinese migrants illegally cross into Canada by the Peace Arch border crossing. Between June 2014 and October 2015, the 63-year-old helped 34 people enter from the U.S.
The prosecution said the migrants, some of whom were children, crossed through Peace Arch Park, which was built about a century ago as a symbol of friendship between Canada and the U.S., so there is no fence.
All had travelled to the U.S. on visas issued in China by the U.S. consulate.
Kong initially pleaded not guilty, but later admitted to his role in the smuggling case.
Court documents detail a statement Kong made to CBSA investigators in which he admitted to helping many more people enter Canada illegally.
"His migrant smuggling activities were centered around Peace Arch Park. He had been engaged in migrant smuggling activities for about 10 years," the document said. "He said he averaged moving about 10 to 15 people per year from the US into Canada."
The Crown asked Friday for a six-year sentence, while defence suggested he serve two or three.
"Mr. Kong is alleged to have assisted them at various times in 'jumping the border' from the U.S. into British Columbia, and thereafter travelling to the Toronto area where they filed refugee protection claims at the Etobicoke office of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada," a B.C. Supreme Court justice wrote last year.
In handing down his sentence, the judge cited mitigating factors, including Kong’s guilty plea, and the death of his wife while he was in custody.
Kong told the court he felt responsible for her death because he was incarcerated and unable to care for her.