Cambodian-Chinese Operation Ends with Gambling and Crypto Busts

Chinese authorities continue to work with their overseas counterpart in a bid to clamp down on illegal casinos that target nationals. A police raid in Cambodia’s capital last week ended up with a brief shootout and 200 people apprehended.

Police Raid in Phnom Penh Results in 200 Arrests 

Illegal activities, including gambling, continue to thrive around Cambodia as Chinese and Cambodian law enforcement work together to dismantle criminal groups. A similar joint operation carried out in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and most populous city, on Friday led to asset seizures and arrests related to illegal gambling, cryptocurrency scams, and sex trafficking. 

Over 200 people have been detained at a gated complex, with numerous Vietnamese and Chinese nationals apprehended as complicit with the illegal operations or victims thereof. Police officers were shot at as they tried to enter the complex ran by various Chinese criminal groups, reports said.

The news of the raid coincided with a report by Reuters, which interviewed victims of trafficking in Cambodia and who found out that people were forced to comply with criminals’ demands, which included creating fake social media profiles to try and lure people into online gambling and various cryptocurrency scams. 

Many of the organizations’ victims were low-income people who were tempted by the prospect of earning quick money but once sucked in the organization, and they were not allowed to leave for fear they would have dropped tips to the police. 

China Continues to Target Criminals Wherever They Are 

China has been particularly sensitive to overseas operations targeting its nationals and has vowed to pursue criminals beyond its state borders with and without the assistance of local governments. Just last week, China issued a total of $900 million in penalties to ten individuals for facilitating illegal gambling. 

Cambodia plays a particular role in this fight, as the country was seen as a conduit for underhand gambling where many illegal operations thrived. This forced China to pressure Cambodia into suspending its iGaming industry for fears that the country would not be able to clamp down on underhand operations. 

Cambodia eventually agreed to outlaw online casinos as China threatened economic sanctions and discontinuing investment in the country. Within a month of the ban, an estimated 200,000 Chinese nationals had left the country. However, the suspension of the regulated gambling industry has had a similarly adverse effect as it allowed underground organizations to thrive and move in a market that was now left without proper options to satisfy demand. 

In August, Thailand arrested eight men trying to cross into Cambodia. Based on a report by The Khmer Times, the people were looking to work at an illegal online casino in Poipet. The number of illegal immigrants still flocking to Cambodia is unknown. 

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