Fourteen Chinese arrested in connection with illegal activities in Sihanoukville’s China Project

Following an investigation by the Khmer Times, police raided a hotel-casino. A number of people were arrested and two victims released. Firearms were also found. Those arrested will be questioned after a 14-day quarantine. To avoid the crackdown, criminal activities are being moved away from the coastal city.

Phnom Penh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Cambodian police arrested 14 people accused of criminal activities at a Chinese-owned hotel-casino on Ochheuteal Beach, Sihanoukville.

The authorities acted following the investigative work of the Khmer Times, which exposed how more than 8,000 people held prisoner by Chinese bosses were forced to engage in online fraud in a complex of buildings known as the China Project.

According to the Cambodian newspaper, shots were heard near the beach last Thursday. The next day, police raided the hotel. The criminals fired up to six shots as they attempted to flee to a nearby building. No deaths or injuries were reported.

The same criminal activities uncovered in the China Project investigation were found inside the Xihao Ying hotel-casino. In addition to online fraud, the authorities report enslavement, cross-border human trafficking and sexual abuse.

All those arrested are Chinese and were placed in solitary confinement for 14 days.

“We are now waiting for them to complete their quarantine and we take further action in accordance with the laws,” said Preah Sihanouk (Sihanoukville) provincial court’s spokesman Huoth Vichetr.

Police officers arrested two other Chinese nationals, but it was later discovered that they were actually victims of extortion and were released.

Police also confiscated seven firearms, including three automatic rifles, an AK47, and several bulletproof vests. Now the authorities are investigating the origin of this paraphernalia.

According to the Khmer Times, the police carried out the arrests under pressure from the central government, eager to put an end to the violence in Sihanoukville.

The newspaper expects more raids in neighbouring areas. It seems in fact that criminal groups are moving to other locations, including O'tres, Victory Hill, in central Sihanoukville and near the port, as well as Battambang province and the capital.

Cambodia can also rely on Chinese help. “We will continuously share information and provide encouragement to local law enforcement officers in their efforts to rid the coastal province and elsewhere of this menace,” said the head of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security Task Force after the raid.

“Chinese police and Cambodian police are looking for a way to resolve the problem,” said officials with the China-Cambodia Law Enforcement Cooperation Office.

“It is every police officer’s responsibility to crack down on crimes of this nature which are particularly horrific. Our government has a very strict policy to crack down on such crimes.”