Gamblers have been told to be alert about kidnapping gangs in Manila, capital of the Philippines.
There has been a series of arrests in the last few years where gangs have preyed on individuals at local casinos before holding them to ransom.
Six men have been arrested following the kidnapping of three Chinese men in April outside a casino hotel in Barangay Tambo in the south of Manila. One of the men managed to escape and explained he was held for two days as his captives tried to recover the 10,000 yen he had lost at the casino.
Earlier this week, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila reported that several of the suspects have been re-arrested on suspicion of bribery after one of the six of those arrested placed a bag containing almost $11,000 on a table in front of officials.
Kidnapping by Chinese gangs in Manila is becoming somewhat of a trend. In May last year 41 Chinese and two Malaysians were arrested following the abduction of a 48-year old woman.
The victim was a tourist from Singapore and was playing baccarat at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Pasay City. There she was befriended and asked to accompany two of the gang to another casino, The City of Dreams.
Instead she was taken to an apartment in Paranaque, where the gang held her ransom while asking her friends for around $180,000 for her safe return.
These loanshark syndicates are growing in Manila despite a crackdown on syndicates and illegal gambling. According to Teresita Ang See of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, an organization that helps victims of kidnapping and abduction, she had worked with 11 cases involving the Chinese in the last two months of 2018, with two or three incidents now occurring every week. She warns that many more of those affected might not have come forward. She highlighted that the kidnapping of gamblers with debts unpaid or wealthy tourists were becoming more popular.
Due to the concerning amount of abductions over the last few years, NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin reminded the public that if approached by such individuals they should look for help.
He said, “People playing in casinos should approach the hotel staff and security for help immediately”.
Gamblers should be suspicious of anyone who offers cash to continue playing and consider the terms, if any, of such agreements. Staff have also been warned to be on the lookout.