Six Charged, 100 Rescued in Human Trafficking Crackdown

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A traffic police officer in Phnom Penh on September 15, 2020. (VOD)
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Prosecutors have provisionally charged six Chinese and Cambodian suspects with human trafficking as part of a crackdown that has rescued more than 100 victims in 12 days and has discovered an electric shock baton and handcuffs at one Sihanoukville location, authorities said.

Downgraded in the U.S.’s Trafficking in Persons report and facing mounting international pressure, Cambodian authorities have publicized more arrests and rescues from forced-labor compounds, mostly in Sihanoukville — though they have so far spoken little about the multimillion-dollar global scams operating within them.

Preah Sihanouk deputy prosecutor Huot Vichet said on Thursday that as part of the recent crackdown, six suspects had been provisionally charged for cross-border human trafficking.

They were arrested on Friday after victims lodged a complaint with Interior Minister Sar Kheng. Their charges are for allegedly bringing people from China to Sihanoukville by water. The Interior Ministry has said 35 Chinese nationals were found to have been smuggled by water to the Li Sheng building in Buon commune.

The six suspects are: Xia Junhao, 20, manager; Sorn Piseth, 43, driver and bodyguard; Lu Xinyou, 36, floor manager; Zhang Yong, 26, floor manager; Mo Zhengyun, 19, chef; and Ky Vong, 31, driver.

Investigating judges were conducting further proceedings in the case, Vichet said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said authorities had acted on 40 complaints and rescued more than 100 victims between August 18 and 29. Of these victims, there is one American, one Cambodian-American, two Indonesians, 38 Chinese, 53 Malaysians, five Vietnamese and three Taiwanese.

Sopheak added that, on Tuesday afternoon, a 28-year-old Chinese national confined to work in Buon commune was rescued, and his Chinese manager brought in for questioning.

On Wednesday, a 24-year-old Chinese woman was rescued and her manager also taken into custody.

He detailed three other operations on Wednesday:

  • Two Chinese men rescued from Oscar casino in Buon commune.
  • A woman in Muoy commune who had been removed to another compound, but brought back by police order along with her boyfriend.
  • A 38-year-old Malaysian man rescued from Jing Chai Ou in Muoy commune — where an electric shock baton and two pairs of handcuffs were found on the seventh floor.

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