Kidnapped Casino Worker Safe after Deadly Shootout in Phillippines

Posted on: June 1, 2022, 05:20h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2022, 10:29h.

Police in the Philippines killed four Chinese men on Monday after they allegedly kidnapped another Chinese national who was in the country to work at a casino. When the police descended on the criminals’ hideout, a shootout ensued, leading to the deaths, reports the South China Morning Post.

Lapu Lapu police
A Lapu Lapu police vehicle. The city’s officers and SWAT members stopped a kidnapping this week, killing four suspects. (Image: Twitter/Lapu Lapu Police)

Many Chinese immigrants are attracted to online gambling opportunities in the Philippines because of the growth of the lucrative industry. This also means, though, that there is a strong contingent of criminals ready to take advantage of them.

One became easy prey for a criminal gang last week. But unlike some sagas, this one had a happy ending. The victim is free and the assailants won’t be able to commit any more crimes.

Week-Long Kidnapping Comes to an End

Police approached the kidnappers’ hideout in Lapu Lapu on Monday night with the support of intelligence agents and a SWAT team. They had tracked down the suspects who had received a partial ransom payment through WeChat.

The situation turned ugly when the kidnappers began firing at police. The officers retaliated, taking down the suspects, according to Brigadier General Rudolph Dimas, leader of the anti-kidnapping unit of the national police.

Police identified the victim as Lyu Xingou, a Chinese national from China’s southeast province of Fujian. He was about to leave home for Lapu Lapu last Wednesday when Chinese-speaking gunmen grabbed him.

Holding him captive, the kidnappers called Lyu’s son in China and demanded a ransom of RMB1 billion (US$150,000). When he made the partial payment of RMB500,000 ($74,940) via WeChat, police were able to track down the suspects.

Dimas stated that police recovered four guns, handcuffs, a laptop, and cellphones at the scene. The assailants may also have conducted previous kidnappings of Chinese workers at online casinos in the country, he added.

Kidnappings Still a Problem

From 2017 to 2019, there were 55 kidnappings in the Philippines that involved Chinese victims. In addition, police apprehended eight members of a Chinese kidnap group in San Pedro, just south of Manila, in January 2021.

In the latter, police believe they captured the suspected leader of a known Chinese kidnap–for–ransom gang. The gang targeted Chinese expatriates working in online casinos and operates locally.

The Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation (PAGCOR), the Philippines’ gaming regulator and casino operator, issued a statement after the incident. It vowed to intensify efforts to address the harms the industry is bringing.

According to the organization, its officials have already met with representatives from the country’s central bank, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission. They are collaborating to tighten money flows in the gambling industry. PAGCOR also stated that it would work with the police to improve security measures at casinos.

There has been a drop in Chinese nationals coming to the Philippines over the past two years. However, unofficial reports indicate that gaming operators employ around 150,000 Chinese in the country.