Five individuals are being questioned in the Preah Sihanouk court over arms dealing, while 21 Thai nationals were removed from Sihanoukville scam operations that used Tinder and Line to lure people to invest in fraudulent schemes, Cambodian and Thai authorities said.
The latest arrests continue both a spate of violent crime that has seen a police officer shot on Sihanoukville streets and a scourge of scam operations where foreign workers are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun again raised the issue of violent crime in the coastal city in a speech on Friday, saying authorities were being “mocked by outsiders repeatedly” for being unable to manage the situation.
“We have already announced it and would like to announce loud and clear here, again, that we will not make exceptions, and will continue to investigate the root,” Chamroeun said.
“In the past [we] have misunderstood the managing of weapons, which has caused a situation in Sihanouk and sometimes in security,” he said. Anyone found to be involved — whether “Cambodian, foreigner, civil servant or soldier” — would be punished severely, he said.
The provincial administration also on Friday released photographs of at least 28 guns seized in a raid on alleged gun dealers.
Sihanoukville police chief Ky Visal said three Vietnamese suspects had been arrested in Sihanoukville, while two Cambodians were arrested in Phnom Penh and Kandal, but declined to give details of the alleged crime.
Provincial court spokesman Huot Vichet said prosecutors were questioning the suspects.
Meanwhile, Thai police said 21 Thais had been removed from two Sihanoukville scam compounds on Tuesday that it named as Bolai casino and Jing Cheng hotel. Bolai is listed as being sited near O’Chheuteal beach, though Jing Cheng could not be immediately located.
The 21 Thai nationals were working for romance and investment scam operations in Cambodia where they used Tinder or Line to find targets, then tricked the victims to make investments on a fraudulent platform, Thai police said.
The 21 people were arrested based on Thai arrest warrants for public fraud, illegal assembly and money laundering, and are expected to be repatriated next week.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Chuon Narin said the 21 people had so far been taken to Phnom Penh, but declined to give further details.
Eng Lyhour, provincial police deputy for Banteay Meanchey, the western province bordering Thailand, would only say that repatriations were frequent. “We send them everyday, and everyday sometimes there are one or two everyday, and it is normal when we see them cross illegally we send them back.”
In the gun-dealing case, police named the five arrested suspects as Huynh Minh Nhat, 30, Bui Quyng Thien, 24, Dinh Thanh Xuyen, 25, Bun Ratana, 29, and Yin Thara, 35.