Thai police say there could be more than 1500 Thai nationals trapped in Sihanoukville, Cambodia held against their will by Chinese scammer gangs.
Following a long negotiation between Thai police who traveled to Cambodia and a group of Chinese men, two dozen Thai nationals were rescued last Sunday from a ten-story townhouse sealed behind razor wire and protected by security cameras.
“With assistance from our Cambodian counterparts we have managed to rescue 700 Thais in total so far,” Pol Lt. Gen. Surachate Hakparn, a senior Thai police officer, said.
We have also issued warrants for international organized gangs involved in human trafficking and prosecuted brokers who smuggled Thais into Cambodia through illegal border crossings” he said.
Aljazeera reports that throughout Southeast Asia allege that hundreds of Thais, Malaysians, Filipinos, and Indonesians have also been lured to Cambodia by organized crime groups like the Triads operating around Sihanoukville, a city notorious for its Chinese criminal gangs, casinos, and lawless reputation.
As soon as the harvest is over and underemployment is prevalent in Thailand, brokers often travel between poor villages offering locals work.
Chinese phone scammers a newcomer
Farmers sometimes go overseas in search of better-paying jobs. Others are forced to work on fishing boats and factories run by criminal syndicates, which pay little if anything at all.
Chinese phone scam gangs are a relative newcomer to the dark underworld.
According to Pol Lt. Gen. Surachate, most of the kingpins are in China, however, they employ people all the way down the line in neighboring countries.
According to police, over 700 Thais have been repatriated so far from Cambodia, most of whom were forced into debt bondage with price tags of several thousand dollars on their freedom.
According to authorities, the fraud has been carried out on an industrial scale, scamming Thais out of millions of dollars since the pandemic began.