Several dozen Chinese nationals allegedly wanted for crimes in mainland China were among people arrested on Wednesday at a casino in Poipet, in Cambodia, say media reports.
Poipet is a town on Cambodia’s border with Thailand. Cambodia allows casinos whereas Thailand does not. That has created a market for small gaming establishments that mostly serve day-tripping Thai customers, but are also popular among Chinese clients.
The figures stated in the media reports ranged from around 70 to almost 120 Chinese nationals having been arrested in Wednesday’s raid, following a joint investigation between Chinese and Cambodian police. Of those, at least 38 reportedly had pending warrants in mainland China related to extortion schemes using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology.
Several mobile phones and computers were also seized during the raid.
The operation took place at Golden Crown Casino. According to Cambodia Daily newspaper, the property is owned by local senator and businessman Kok An.
All those arrested were staying at the Golden Crown’s hotel, the reports stated.
The property had to be temporarily shut down during the raid, police told Cambodia Daily. According to the news outlet, there were so many Chinese inside the premises that officers had trouble finding their targets.
Sieng Sen, director of the internal security department at Cambodia’s Ministry of Interior, was quoted by the Khmer Times as stating that raids on Chinese nationals in Cambodian casinos would increase in an attempt to crack down on cybercrime. Over the past year, several Chinese-run extortion operations were detected in Cambodia, according to media reports.
Last October, Cambodian authorities arrested a group of about 170 Chinese nationals in a villa and guesthouse in Sihanoukville for pending warrants in mainland China. The operation was also coordinated with Chinese authorities and also involved alleged VoIP extortion crimes.
Sihanoukville, a coastal area in southwest Cambodia, is – like Poipet – home to several casinos, many catering for Chinese clients. A November report from the Phnom Penh Post stated that many of those arrested during the raid worked at local casinos. The report added that the operation had led to Chinese investors, workers and tourists leaving Sihanoukville en masse, for fears that the operation’s true goal was to shut down gaming halls and online casinos used by Chinese nationals.
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