Abduction Arrests in Koh Kong as Police Say Crime Moving From Sihanoukville

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A Koh Kong officer armed with a handgun enters a door during a raid in Koh Kong, in a photo posted to the Koh Kong Provincial Police Facebook page on November 12, 2022.

The Koh Kong court is questioning six suspects over the kidnapping and detention of a Malaysian woman, as local police said some foreign nationals and crime-linked operations were moving into the province as they “evacuate” from Sihanoukville.

Police received a call for help from the woman’s husband before the six suspects were arrested on Friday around 9 p.m. in Khemara Phoumin city, according to a provincial police statement.

Police photos of the rescue show the inside of a residential-style house with a wooden stairwell and barred windows.

The location was in Stung Veng commune, police said, naming the six suspects as Deng Chentao, 30, Zhang Manning, 29, Luo Liangling, 28, and Huang Shikun, 24, all Chinese; and Yoo Shu Xin, 27, and Lim Mun Hong, 20, both Malaysian.

Vey Phearom, spokesperson for the provincial court’s prosecutors, said police sent the case to the court on Sunday, and prosecutors were questioning the six suspects.

Local newspaper Koh Santepheap said the Malaysian woman was detained since October 31 and the husband told to pay a ransom of $5,000 to set her free.

Crimes against foreign nationals in Cambodia — including human trafficking, detention and extortion — rose amid the growth of the online gambling industry centered in Sihanoukville. Later, once online gambling was made illegal, global scam syndicates operated out of the casinos and other local compounds, with many foreign workers forced to work and barred from leaving.

Khemara Phoumin’s deputy city police chief Toun Saron said officers had in recent weeks raided the city’s Thann Tay hotel to find dozens of foreign nationals waiting to be moved into a casino owned by the LYP Group linked to tycoon and Senator Ly Yong Phat on the other side of the river near the Thai border.

The foreign nationals had been transferred from Sihanoukville at night but kept at the Thann Tay for one night as spaces were prepared across the river, he said.

“This was an evacuation from Sihanouk to work in Koh Kong because in Sihanouk, they’ve been closed down,” Saron said. “These Chinese people were intended to work at the LYP Group [compound] on the other side [of the river].”

But Saron said the September raid was an immigration matter, as many of the foreign nationals did not have proper documents.

He said they were to work in online gambling operations, but called this “legitimate.” He also did not explain why the raid was made at the hotel and not the LYP Group casino compound.

“They were legitimate and they just play online gambling,” he said.

Neak Meas News said the police raid had found Chinese, Indonesian and Vietnamese nationals.

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