Three Thais Escaping Forced Labor Arrested for Stealing Car: Police

2 min read
A traffic police officer in Phnom Penh on September 15, 2020. (VOD)
[responsivevoice_button voice="US English Female"]

Three Thai workers being transported from Kandal to Preah Sihanouk stole the car as their driver was outside urinating and tried to drive home to Thailand in order to escape from casino work where they were allegedly detained and unpaid, police said.

“According to their confession, they had no salary, and we don’t know whether they lied to us or not,” said Takeo province’s Tram Kak district police deputy Sok Sochea.

“Their casino boss wanted to send them back to Sihanouk, and they said they did not intend to steal the car to sell, but they wanted to escape from working in the casino because they didn’t have freedom and [the casino] detained them without providing their salary.”

Sochea added that the three Thai nationals were arrested penniless.

“They didn’t have a single cent and they had only plastic bags of clothes,” he said. “They don’t have passports. They could have been cheated, and, simply, I think they have been sold. We had to buy them food since they didn’t have money with them.”

“I’m not sure about the procedure and I made a report for stealing a car.”

The district’s police chief, Duk Thiya, said the three Thai nationals arrested were a 20-year-old man from Bangkok who had come to Cambodia in November 2021; a 27-year-old man from Chonburi who came in April 2021, and a 29-year-old woman from Samut Sakhon who arrived in 2015, all via Poipet.

They had all ended up at a casino in Kandal’s Chrey Thom area on the Vietnamese border, and were being transported to Preah Sihanouk. A 44-year-old driver from Preah Sihanouk had been hired via a WeChat group, Thiya said.

But when the driver left his car to urinate, leaving his keys in the car, the three Thai nationals took the vehicle and drove west: They wanted to return to Thailand. But the driver informed police, and officers in both Takeo and Kampot coordinated to stop the car around midday Wednesday and arrest the three suspects, Thiya said.

“They didn’t want to go [to Sihanoukville], but their boss wanted them to go there, and they drove the car away in order to escape and search for a way to drive to Thailand. Their passports had been taken away when they entered the border between Cambodia and Thailand,” he said.

Thiya added that he did not know the name of the casino that the three had been trying to escape from, but they were working “online” and there was a “broker” involved. The case was now with Takeo provincial police, he said.

Cambodia has seen a string of accounts from foreign workers saying they have been entrapped in online scam operations where they say they have been forced to work or face repercussions, including potential violence.

VOD. No part of this article may be reproduced in print, electronically, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without written permission. VOD is not responsible for any infringement in all forms. The perpetrator may be subject to legal action under Cambodian laws and related laws.