Crackdown on ASEAN region

Major illegal gambling-related arrests take place across Cambodia, Philippines and Thailand

2022-09-27
Reading time 1:56 min

According to local media reports, police across Cambodia and Thailand have arrested more than 500 immigrants in Cambodia and 40 suspects in Thailand amid a crackdown on illegal gambling. The latest wave of arrests comes as measures on illicit gambling have been enforced across the ASEAN region, particularly in the aforementioned countries and Philippines.

In a joint operation conducted with other agencies last week, over 400 Chinese nationals were arrested and deported amid raids conducted on the illegal operation of Philippines Offshore Gaming Operations, better known as POGOs.

The Philippines will stop operations of 175 offshore gambling firms and deport about 40,000 Chinese workers, a justice ministry official said on Monday according to Reuters, part of a crackdown on the notoriously opaque online gaming industry.

"The crackdown was triggered by reports of murder, kidnapping, and other crimes committed by Chinese nationals against fellow Chinese nationals," justice ministry spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano said.

The POGOs targeted for closure had licenses that either expired or were revoked, for violations like non-payment of government fees, Clavano said, adding the deportation of the Chinese workers would start next month.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, the Thai Public Broadcasting Services report informed that its Crime Suppression Division (CSD) seized over 460 million baht ($12.1 million) in assets and cash in a series of coordinated raids which took place in 52 locations across 10 provinces that were suspected to be connected to a major online gambling network based in the north-eastern province of Khon Kaen.

According to local media, more than 40 suspects, alleged to have operated an illegal gambling operation with a turnover of about 2 million baht ($52,700) a day, were taken into police custody. Additionally, it was discovered that three years ago, the gang had opened three online gambling websites, reportedly used by more than 50,000 gamblers. 

According to the information found, the websites offered several types of gambling. All users were required to transfer money into the gang’s bank accounts, which were directly linked to the websites. When money was transferred to these accounts, it would be quickly withdrawn and transferred to other accounts to conceal the money trail.

Furthermore, in Cambodia, local police have arrested over 500 foreign nationals. The arrests came after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the crackdown on illegal establishments in response to alarming reports of human trafficking and kidnappings linked to the country's casinos.

Several media reports claimed the arrest of 72 Chinese nationals and 82 Indonesians last week, followed by the arrest of 351 Chinese, 46 Vietnamese, 10 Malaysians, five Indians, and two Laotians on Sunday. Arrests last week were from Phnom Penh in Kandal province of Cambodia, whereas arrests on Sunday were from Sihanoukville.

The Khmer Times report said that, of the 414 arrested on Sunday, 168 persons were found to be working without appropriate authorization and proper documents, which included 17 women, whereas 208 persons, including 23 females, were fined by the immigration department of Cambodia.

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