Cambodian Illegal Gambling, Phone Scam Ring Busted, 66 Thai Rescued

Posted on: April 14, 2022, 05:38h. 

Last updated on: April 14, 2022, 07:12h.

Thai and Cambodian police joined forces this week to break up another illegal gambling and phone scam ring. In the process, they freed 66 Thai nationals forced to work for the organized crime group.

Cambodia illegal gambling
Police in Cambodia prepare handcuffs to arrest those participating in illegal gambling, kidnapping, and torture. More crime syndicates continue to fall, with police freeing 66 hostages this week. (Image: Nikkei Asia)

There has been an increase in police actions in Cambodia over the past few months. The emphasis follows an outcry from the global community, with police liberating hundreds of kidnapped individuals forced to live and work in slave-like conditions.

Police from Cambodia, together with Thai law enforcement, have now rescued another 66 Thai nationals, according to Reuters. They took down another faction leading an underground operation conducting illegal online gambling and phone scams. The faction has alleged ties to a larger Chinese-run organized crime group. This may signal that more of the criminals will soon fall.

Thousands of Slaves

While police have recently liberated hundreds of people, there are likely thousands more. Since last October, police have been able to free hundreds of foreigners forced to participate in illegal activity in Cambodia.

They come from Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries, expecting to find a better life. Instead, they find kidnapping, torture, and slavery and work long hours under slave-like conditions to facilitate the gang’s illegal activity.

If they refuse or don’t perform up to expectations, severe punishment awaits. Among the favorite choices of the criminal gang are electrocutions and whippings.

It isn’t clear if the latest bust is tied to the recent revelation that a large underground micro-community conducting illegal operations exists. That was only a couple of weeks ago, so there may be a link. That, according to Jeremy Douglas of the United Nations, should serve as a “wake-up call” for what is happening in the region.

Crime on an ‘Industrial’ Scale

The criminal gang operates in cities like Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Poipet, and more. Reeling from international pressure, Cambodia has increased its efforts to intervene. Doing so determined that the illegal activity is occurring on almost an “industrial” scale.

Those who refuse get assaulted, some get whipped, others get electrocuted … Some get beaten up and others get locked in dark rooms and are not given food,” said Thai assistant national police commissioner Surachate Hakparn.

Sihanoukville and Poipet have a reputation for being towns where the law doesn’t exist. Organized crime has thrived there for decades. But an invasion by Chinese investors fueled a new era of unlawfulness.

Today, there are complete micro-communities that conduct illegal activity. These communities are so complete that they include slave labor, restaurants, bars, and more.

It took increased pressure from the international community and the United Nations to force change in Cambodia. The government is now breaking up illegal factions on an almost weekly basis. Perhaps it will finally cut off the illicit activity and clean up its image — something authorities told it desperately wants to do.