Cambodia Arrests Chinese Casino Manager Tied to Freedom Swim

After a daring escape last week of more than 40 people held against their will at illegal casinos in Cambodia, the country has taken action. Authorities have arrested the manager of one of the properties involved, with more arrests possibly coming.

Nine Taiwanese victims of a human trafficking operation in Cambodia arrive home earlier this month. Cambodia is beginning to crack down on trafficking and arrested an illegal casino manager over the weekend. (Image: Taiwan News)

It was only a few days ago that 42 people tried to escape horrendous, slave-like conditions in Cambodia. They set out to cross the Binh Di River in Cambodia’s An Giang Province into Vietnam. However, one drowned and another was captured by the owner of one of the casinos. A day after the escape, authorities found the body of the 16-year-old boy who drowned.

Over the weekend, Khmer Times reported that Cambodian authorities reacted swiftly to the news, which made international headlines. They arrested a Chinese man they said was a manager of one of the casinos.

Escapees To Blame

The news outlet stated that authorities paid a visit to the Golden Phoenix Entertainment Casino in the Koh Thom District of the Kandal Province. They were responding to a tip they received from an official with the Cambodian immigration authority.

That tip identified the alleged manager of the casino, although authorities did not provide his name. He was responsible for running what could only be considered a slave camp at the casino. There, the individuals worked long hours for little or no pay, and could not take breaks.

The unidentified Chinese man admitted that he forced the individuals to work against their will. However, according to him, it was their fault.

The workers owed the casino money, he stated. This, despite the fact that the property never paid the high-end salaries it promised when it lured them to Cambodia. In addition, it didn’t even pay the $800 a month it later promised some of them. Instead, most only received $400-$500.

Because the company didn’t honor its wage agreements, the employees rebelled. When they did, the casino operators beat them and locked them up. One escapee told authorities that she routinely heard the beatings and saw the physical damage the others received. Another described it as a “living hell.”

When authorities showed up at the casino, they also found another 11 Vietnamese still living in the same conditions. These, for one reason or another, didn’t try to escape with the others.

Over 2,000 Vietnamese have fallen for the high-paying job scam and ended up as slaves in Cambodia, according to reports. Other reports have previously indicated that authorities have only rescued 250 of those. In addition, people from Hong Kong, Thailand, and other countries have become targets as well.

Cambodia Takes Action

Cambodia has responded previously to reports that illegal gambling facilities and call centers were holding people against their will. However, this is the first time authorities have responded so quickly. Going forward, it might become more common.

The director of the police force in An Giang, Dinh Van Noi, put Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Security in the spotlight on Saturday. He said it was time for the ministry to heighten its efforts into the widespread problem of human trafficking in the country.

He seemed to have hit his target. Media outlets today report that Cambodian authorities, with the help of immigration, will scrutinize every foreigner in the country.

Sar Kheng, Cambodia’s Interior Minister, stated that government departments are now beginning to conduct sweeps to rescue victims and arrest the traffickers. Currently, operations are being carried out in the Kandal and Preah Sihanouk provinces. However, additional sweeps should be coming.

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