Alleged smuggler Cheng Chi Ping appeared in court

An alleged smuggler of aliens appeared in Manhattan federal court on July 1 accused of bringing thousands of Chinese into the United States where she used a violent street gang to hold them hostage until they could pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees. Cheng Chi Ping, 53, also known as "Sister Ping" and "The Mother of All Snakeheads" was extradited from Hong Kong. She was charged of four shipments of illegal aliens dating back to 1992 in which least 20 died. U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey ordered her held without bail. If convicted, Ping faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Ping, who lived in New York City from the early 1980s until 1993, was first indicted by a Manhattan federal grand jury in 1994. She became a fugitive and the subject of a five-year manhunt until she was arrested in Hong Kong in April 2000. (Source: Gail Appleson, Reuters, July 1, 2003)

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