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Mariana
09-01-2014, 03:12 AM
Hi everyone! I think I need a little bit of help again :)

One of my characters is a Godfather and among other illegal business, is involved in the human trafficking. I want to write with as many details as I can the following incident. A shipping container that is supposed to be carrying goods from China – when in reality it has 15 immigrants in it – departures from Asia and arrives at the port of Marseille, in France.

My question is: What do I need to have my story seem credible? I thought of having a corrupted employee in the port of Marseille who will check the fake documents of the container and say that they are ok and also some corrupted custom officials who will assure that it will pass the custom exam. Do I miss any other detail? Thank you for your help and sorry for my poor English.

Sources that I’ve already checked:
http://www.universalcargo.com/blog/bid/95413/What-is-Customs-Clearance
http://morethanshipping.com/customs-holds-and-exams/

True facts where my inspiration came from:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2728056/Afghan-immigrants-shipping-container-died-30-minutes-later.html

King Neptune
09-01-2014, 04:05 AM
You have to put enough food in the container, and there has to be something into which to put waste. From what I have read and seen, the corrupt customs agent on this end is not necessary, because they only check some of the containers. Some containers are in a prescreening programming that means they are not checked at all after they are loaded.

Mariana
09-01-2014, 04:40 AM
Thank you very much for your answer.

Since I have to write some more details about that and explain the reason why the container doesn't go through any check, do you have any links to give me about this pre-screening programming? I googled it but I didn't find any further information :(

jclarkdawe
09-01-2014, 04:53 AM
You don't need corrupt customs agents.

Starting point is you have to know the weight of the container with freight/people. You're not going to use the entire container, just the front 2/3rds. Let's say you have ten people, at 120 pounds per person, plus another 600 pounds of supplies, toilet, et cetera. That gives you 1800 pounds for 2/3rds of the trailer, which means you have to come up with legal freight weighing 900 pounds that fills the first third of the container.

People and their stuff go in the front of the container, then you box the last third of the trailer with legitimate cargo, but with a load description that says the entire container is loaded with this cargo. Paperwork is good, and opening the back of the container is accurate. Only way to discover this is to empty the container.

Biggest problem is smell and ventilation.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

indwig
09-01-2014, 02:31 PM
OH MY GOSH! THIS IS THE PLOT OF TRANSPORTER WITH JASON STATHAM.

Sorry, I've zero knowledge of what you're talking about, but seriously, that film has almost everything you're talking about: evil Chinese dude that does human trafficking with shipping containers, and Jason Statham is living in Marseille and has a kooky French detective who helps him stop the evil Asians (and none of the French policemen I've ever met spoke English this well...). It follows JS's POV though, so there aren't any specifics as to how human trafficking works.

But otherwise, I'm unhelpful. In fact, I've probably set you back. Tee hee.

Foolonthehill
09-01-2014, 03:37 PM
I recently read a biography where after World War 2, they used container ships to illegaly transport Jews who wanted to go to Palestine. One of the details was they had to all go below deck when another ship or fishing board appeared

Buffysquirrel
09-01-2014, 03:40 PM
No, the biggest problem is that people die en route.

The container comes into the port and is loaded onto a lorry. Given the vast number of containers passing through ports, they only do random checks; they can't check every container. At Dover at least they have an x-ray check that would reveal people inside the container regardless of how well they're hidden. If it's used, your characters are sunk. But the chances of that are, realistically, low.

King Neptune
09-01-2014, 04:09 PM
Thank you very much for your answer.

Since I have to write some more details about that and explain the reason why the container doesn't go through any check, do you have any links to give me about this pre-screening programming? I googled it but I didn't find any further information :(

http://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-control

"Currently, over 80 percent of all maritime cargo imported into the United States is subject to prescreening."
http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/csi_brochure_2011_3.pdf

And there is more.

WEM
09-01-2014, 08:38 PM
Buffysquirel is right. Lot's of peole would die. The trafficking gangs don't care about their welfare - they want their money and to ship them out. To get 10 or so living illegals, you would need to start with many more. They would also arrive in terrible shape.

We keep getting news reports of these sorts of events, so try going back through BBC news reports to get the human side.

boron
09-02-2014, 12:13 AM
On land, they carry them by trucks. One truck driver forgot to arrange ventilation and, I think, 20 people died.

frimble3
09-02-2014, 01:02 AM
What if there's a dock strike? No containers moving in or out, and the food in the container with the illegal immigrants is running out. Think the criminals are going to go to the port office and identify the at-risk container? Not likely. And no-one will hear the victims pounding and shouting.
Considering the size of the container facilities at a big port, I doubt that your one container of 15 illegal immigrants is going to be the only one in Marseille.

WEM
09-03-2014, 08:06 PM
What if there's a dock strike? No containers moving in or out, and the food in the container with the illegal immigrants is running out. Think the criminals are going to go to the port office and identify the at-risk container? Not likely. And no-one will hear the victims pounding and shouting.
Considering the size of the container facilities at a big port, I doubt that your one container of 15 illegal immigrants is going to be the only one in Marseille.
The gang masters don't care. They're careful to get their money before they put the illegals in the container. If they survive, they survive, if they don't ...

Needless to say, these are not nice people ...

PeteMC
09-06-2014, 12:31 AM
This happens far too much over here, although it usually only makes the news when people die:

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/man-held-over-port-immigrant-death-30565603.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/aug/16/tilbury-migrant-death-new-deal-zeebrugge

http://news.yahoo.com/british-police-arrest-suspect-over-migrant-container-death-142954409.html

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/501151/Man-arrested-ANOTHER-group-migrants-found-cramped-container

Karen Junker
09-06-2014, 03:46 AM
My knowledge of geography and shipping routes is limited, but I'm pretty sure we've had some containers with people in them show up in Seattle -- and I'm pretty sure they had no toilet facilities and insufficent food and water, so some deaths.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/12174500/ns/us_news-life/t/illegal-chinese-immigrants-land-us-limbo/#.VApKd_ldWFU

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/3339957/t/human-smugglers-try-new-tactic/#.VApKqvldWFU

http://www.modelminority.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=194:smuggling-of-chinese-ends-in-a-box-of-death-squalor-&catid=42:law&Itemid=56

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2002914004_smuggling.html

Buffysquirrel
09-06-2014, 01:41 PM
The gang masters don't care. They're careful to get their money before they put the illegals in the container. If they survive, they survive, if they don't ...

Needless to say, these are not nice people ...

Hmm, they do get money up front, but they also hope to make more money out of them once they arrive.

Cyia
09-06-2014, 06:31 PM
15 is a very small number of people for what you're talking about. Most discoveries are at least double that (and yes, they're usually only discovered after someone - or all - have died).

Water is usually only carried in by the ones who think to do so. Ditto food. Waste is handled by trying to find a spot in the corner. There's little ventilation, so the smell often stays in the container. Your other concern is heat. There's no way to circulate air inside the containers or to cool the air that's already in there. Add in 20-50 warm bodies, and the ambient temperature rises quickly.

One of the horror stories here in Texas involved a medical supply truck where the driver dropped his trailer for some reason (I can't remember if he knew what he was hauling and needed to get away from evidence of tracking, or if he thought it was a legit load and there was a mechanical failure.). The only way any of the people inside survived was that there were actually medical supplies inside the truck and they managed to get some of the IV tubing through gaps at the seams and get some clean air. One man ended up with the shape of the door mechanism branded to his chest after trying to open it for so long.

Everyone inside has to stay quiet. The containers aren't supposed to make noise, and they're dark. In some cases, unless you're talking about trafficking for prostitution, there's no one waiting to open the containers. The smugglers already have their money, and they've no need for loose ends on the other end to help them get caught, so they leave the "cargo" on the dock until it's either shipped off to an unclaimed freight location or opened by officials on the dock. One case a couple of years ago involved a trafficker who was dumping the shipping containers into the ocean - still full of live immigrants.

PeteMC
09-08-2014, 02:17 AM
One case a couple of years ago involved a trafficker who was dumping the shipping containers into the ocean - still full of live immigrants.

People really are delightful aren't they?

Over here, trafficked people are usually at least wanted at the other end albeit for what is basically slavery, either as prostitutes or indentured servants, housemaids and such or for work gangs such as fruit harvesters or cockle pickers. That doesn't always end well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Morecambe_Bay_cockling_disaster

Buffysquirrel
09-08-2014, 03:22 AM
Everybody but those poor workers knows how dangerous Morecambe Bay is.

Squids
09-08-2014, 06:35 AM
Better hope the Navy or the CG doesn't decide to board them. It's always fun popping open a container and finding people. You know it's gonna be a long day after that.

Matchu
09-08-2014, 03:15 PM
You can write the baddies as 'gang masters' if you like - that is what we are told, and that is what so often gets recycled. But I think the concept is a bit tired for good fiction - like the classic TV 'heroin addict' (yawn) sweating for his fix who can be entirely manipulated by waving a baggy in his face.

I would consider more shades of grey in this area, political elements. You might even have a smuggler hero.

Cath
09-08-2014, 04:39 PM
Story research isn't the place to discuss how to write the story, it's a place for research. Please focus on answering the question and only on answering the question.