British Columbia

Accused in B.C. human smuggling case pleads guilty to 4 charges

A man charged with helping dozens of Chinese migrants "jump the border" illegally into British Columbia pleaded guilty to four counts related to human smuggling Monday.

Michael Shun Lok Kong still to face trial on 1 charge of smuggling Chinese migrants across border

Michael Kong was charged with seven offences under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act related to an investigation of human smuggling at Peace Arch Park. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

A man charged with helping dozens of Chinese migrants "jump the border" illegally into British Columbia pleaded guilty to four counts related to human smuggling Monday.

Michael Shun Lok Kong was originally charged with seven offences under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

His trial had been set to begin in Richmond Provincial Court, but the proceedings were adjourned after Kong entered the guilty pleas.

According to Crown counsel, Kong will face trial on one of the remaining counts in the coming months.

'Jumping the border'

None of the facts of the case were entered into evidence as Kong stood to enter his pleas.

But details of the allegations were laid out last month in a B.C. Supreme Court decision related to the publication of a search warrant in the investigation.

The CBSA has had Michael Shun Lok Kong on its radar for years. He was previously convicted of immigration offences in 2010 and 2013. (CBC)

According to that decision, Kong is accused of helping arrange illegal entry to Canada for a total of 34 Chinese migrants — including several children — between June 2014 and October 2015.

"All had travelled to the U.S.A. on visas issued in China by the U.S. Consulate," the decision says.

"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."

Kong's adult son, Matthew, is also charged with two counts of breaching the Immigration and Refugee Act in June 2015 by helping people enter Canada without a visa.

'Project Interpretation'

Michael Kong was led into the Richmond courtroom by a sheriff. He has thinning grey hair and wore glasses as he stood up in a red prison track suit to enter the guilty pleas. His ankles were also shackled.

According to the earlier B.C. Supreme Court investigation, Kong has long been under investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency. He was previously convicted of immigration offences in 2010 and 2013.

The latest charges come out of "Project Interpretation" — a CBSA investigation launched in 2012 to investigate human smuggling through the border at Peace Arch park in south Surrey.

A Crown prosecutor told the judge that the date for the trial on the remaining count against Kong will depend partly on arrangements involving the Crown's chief witness, a witness from China.

The Canadian government has been co-ordinating with the witness, but he has to renounce his permanent residency in Canada before he can make the trip.

Kong's next appearance is in August. The trial is likely to happen in either late August or early September.

About the Author

Jason Proctor

@proctor_jason

Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and mental health issues in the justice system extensively.

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