Cheng Chui Ping (simplified Chinese: 郑翠萍; traditional Chinese: 鄭翠萍; pinyin: Zhèng Cuìpíng; Wade–Giles: Cheng Ts'ui-p'ing), also known as Sister Ping (萍姐 Píng Jiě), ran a notorious Chinese human smuggling operation primarily from her base in New York City from 1984 until 2000, when she was arrested in Hong Kong and subsequently extradited back to the United States.
Individuals who conducted such Chinese alien smuggling operations are known as "snakeheads". Almost all of the immigrants whom Sister Ping harbored came from the Fujian province of China. Sister Ping was renowned as the most notorious snakehead operating the largest, most sophisticated operation of its kind, which became international in scale.
Sister Ping's smuggling operation was fraught with numerous problems, many of which made headlines. One such story involved a cargo ship named the Golden Venture which ran aground off the beaches of Queens, New York in June 1993. The Golden Venture had 286 would-be immigrants from China in its hold, all of whom had been traveling for months, many near starvation. Ten people drowned in the incident.
Sister Ping fled the United States in advance of an indictment in 1994. The FBI and INS spent the following six years attempting to apprehend her, but she was believed to reside mainly in China, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. In 2000, she was arrested in Hong Kong, and eventually extradited to New York. She was convicted in June 2005 after a jury trial before the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, on three separate counts, which included one count of conspiring to commit alien smuggling, hostage taking, money laundering and trafficking in ransom proceeds. Sister Ping is currently serving a 35-year sentence. She is currently incarcerated in Danbury, Connecticut (BOP #05117-055) and is due for release in 2040.
Sister Ping and the Golden Venture are the subject of Patrick Radden Keefe's 2009 book, The Snakehead. The Snakehead is currently being developed into a motion picture for director Stephen Gaghan.
The Golden Venture disaster and the lives of some of the passengers are the subject of Peter Cohn's 2006 documentary Golden Venture.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2009)|
- Preston, Julia (2006-03-17). "Ringleader Gets 35-Year Term in Smuggling of Immigrants". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-23.
- Patrick Radden Keefe, "The Snakehead: The Criminal Odyssey of Chinatown's Sister Ping," The New Yorker, April 24, 2006
- Patrick Radden Keefe, The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream (Doubleday, 2009)
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