Scam raids have continued in Sihanoukville but police are increasingly finding compounds largely emptied of workers, and are saying they are not finding evidence of crime.
Three raids on Wednesday and three more on Friday found only a small number of workers in the majority of cases — including one building where authorities found just four Cambodian cleaners and one Chinese chef.
That building, Fu Ben Hao in Pi commune, had seven floors of 57 unoccupied rooms, the Preah Sihanouk provincial administration said on Friday. The chef had only started working five days prior to the Wednesday raid, the administration said in a statement, without elaborating.
The raids are part of authorities’ actions over the past few weeks that have targeted long-running Cambodian scam compounds. Initial raids released hundreds of foreign workers from several Sihanoukville compounds amid pleas for help from detention, while at least 11 buildings were also raided in Phnom Penh and one location investigated in Siem Reap, leading to two dozen arrests there.
Officials have said that other criminal operations — which perpetrated massive global scams online — were shutting themselves down, though concerns have also been raised that the top bosses behind the compounds are escaping justice, trafficked workers are being transported elsewhere, and officials are only calling the operations “illegal gambling” rather than acknowledging them as part of global scams.
The six latest Sihanoukville raids were disclosed by the provincial administration in separate statements since Friday.
- Fu Ben Hao, a seven-story building in Pi commune, was raided on Wednesday, finding four Cambodian cleaners and one Chinese chef. “There was no crime.”
- The Royal Yong Li compound in Buon commune — spanning two buildings, one 14 floors of 572 rooms and the other 15 floors of 621 rooms — was raided on Wednesday. “The team did not find any illegal immigrants, cases of detention, torture or human trafficking,” the administration said, without disclosing how many workers were found.
- Jincai 3 in Bei commune — two buildings, one of eight floors of 90 accommodation rooms and 52 office rooms and the other of four floors of 62 rooms — was raided on Wednesday. Authorities found 35 people: 11 Cambodian and 24 Chinese. “There is no crime.”
- Chang Cheng casino, a 12-story building in Buon commune with 164 rooms, was raided on Friday. Thirty-seven were found: 34 Chinese, one Thai and two Vietnamese. Seventeen had no work permit and were fined, while 11 had no passport and were sent to immigration centers. Recent casino registration documents list a Chang Cheng Yu Le Cheng casino run by Bing Cheng International Entertainment.
- Won Siuta, in Buon commune, was raided on Friday. Forty people were found: 36 Chinese, two Malaysian and two Taiwanese. Twenty-seven had no work permit.
- Guoy Heu Guon Ji, a 16-floor building with 153 floors in Bei commune, was raided on Friday, and was the only location where a large number of foreign workers were disclosed. Authorities found 130 people: 46 Cambodian, 59 Chinese, two Korean, one Indonesian, one Myanmar, one Taiwanese, one Turkish and 19 Vietnamese. No human trafficking, confinement or torture were found, the administration said, though 34 foreign workers had no work permit and one had immigrated illegally.
On Friday, Interior Ministry secretary of state and former immigration head Sok Phal said he believed 90% of criminal gambling operations had shut down since authorities started to take action.
“There are only very few remaining, and we do not know the reasons … so we have agreed with each other today to clean up further to stop them,” he said at the time.
Previously, casino and scam compounds have been linked to Senator Kok An, timber tycoon Try Pheap and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew Hun To.