The plight of those suffering at the hands of human traffickers in Southeast Asia is gaining international awareness. Illegal casinos that run slave labor operations in Cambodia and elsewhere in the region are now being broken up on an unprecedented scale.
The case of 40 Vietnamese casino workers who swam to safety last week may have become a catalyst for greater international attention. However, the death of another escapee who drowned and the recent suicide of another also added to the pressure.
After last week’s escape, Cambodian officials immediately arrested one casino manager, who admitted to beating and holding captive a number of workers. Now, thanks to a collaborative effort, four human trafficking rings are being shut down.
Human Trafficking Gangs Become Prey
Officials from Cambodia, Vietnam, and other countries have identified four different human trafficking cells. All had a role in the activity the escapees were trying to get away from last week.
As a result, authorities have made additional arrests on both sides of the Binh Di River. Vietnam arrested two people who acted as brokers, while Cambodia is now targeting casino operators in the Kandal Province where the casinos are located.
In addition, law enforcement departments in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam continue to crack down on human trafficking gangs. They have arrested dozens of people, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
The Vietnamese brokers helped facilitate the activity in Cambodia’s illegal casinos. They arranged to sell a number of Vietnamese nationals to casino operators in various parts of Cambodia.
In Taiwan, police have arrested 75 people allegedly involved in human trafficking. They also assisted in freeing 72 people held in Cambodia. All were working at illegal online gambling operations or conducting other illegal activity.
As part of that law enforcement action, Taiwan determined that there are over 300 Taiwanese still in Cambodia. However, authorities don’t know exactly where they are, but they continue their investigation.
In Hong Kong, police have arrested five people responsible for human smuggling. They sent their victims to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and other countries, and police suspect there may be 22 still in Cambodia and Myanmar.
Details About Daring Escape Revealed
Now that Vietnamese authorities have had more time to talk to the 40 people who crossed the river last week, they have been able to paint a picture of what was going on. The image is one that most would equate to nothing more than a Hollywood action movie. But, for the victims, it was their reality.
The group spent two days planning their escape. They had learned the patterns of guards and casino personnel, and figured out the best time to launch their plan.
On the morning of their escape, they knew the gates would be open. They also knew that there would be fewer personnel on hand at the casino. Therefore, at 10 AM, they made a run for it.
The strongest among the group led the way, ready to fend off any guards that might try to stop them. Those bringing up the rear carried Molotov cocktails that they flung at the guards to create a barrier as they escaped.
The plan worked, even though the guards reacted quickly. Fortunately, the group had already gained an edge, except for one individual who the guards caught, and made the swim to safety. Unfortunately, however, they also had to mourn their friend who drowned in the attempt.
Cambodia cannot deny that it’s dealing with a massive human trafficking problem now. As a result, the country’s government has publicly announced that it will continue to assist in the crackdown.
It has also said that it’s ready to provide assistance to foreigners who unwittingly fall into the trap. It’s a huge step in the right direction, although a lot more work needs to be done.
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