Police in the Philippines announced that they have arrested eight men who are allegedly part of a Chinese gang that kidnapped and ransomed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) workers.
The authorities made the arrests on Saturday in the village of San Pedro, south of Manila. The supposed leader of the gang was among those arrested. This kidnapping group, called Xiaopen-Nanlu, has been targeting POGO workers who are Chinese nationals.
Law enforcement started an investigation after the gang killed one of the abductees. In December, Lyu Long’s supervisor at a Chinese-owned electronics company paid a RMB400,000 (US$62,000) ransom to the kidnappers, but they killed the man, anyway. The company spoke to the police after learning that the gang killed its employee and dumped his body in a deep ravine. Police subsequently found the remains and identified them as Lyu Long.
Tracking down the gang
Police began working to track down the gang and bring them to justice. The gang had kidnapped Liu Xue Xue, another employee of the electronics firm, and sought ransom money for her safe return.
brought the authorities to the gang’s safe house
As part of a sting operation, police lured a gang member to what he thought was a meeting with the kidnapping victim’s work supervisor, arresting him at the scene. He brought the authorities to the gang’s safe house, where police made more arrests and rescued Liu Xue Xue. The police found money, firearms, and ammunition at the safe house.
The gang had also allegedly kidnapped Guang Lin in December. They shot and left him for dead in a ravine after receiving ransom money from the captive’s family members. Lin managed to survive the shooting and was able to identify the gang members.
POGO-related kidnappings have been a significant issue over the past few years. In 2020, the Philippine National Police said that over the past three years, there were 73 kidnappings related to the gambling industry.
The head of the Philippine National Police Anti-Kidnapping Group, Brigadier General Jonnel Estomo, said that 17 kidnapping incidents took place in 2020. These led to the filing of ten cases, the rescue of 23 people, and the arrest of 33 suspects. During the course of their operations, police killed a couple of suspects.
Estomo believes that the COVID-19 pandemic was a reason for the increase in kidnapping incidents last year. POGOs had to shut down their operations for large portions of the year and their revenue dried up. According to Estomo, because the employers had no profits, “in order to survive they will detain their employees and deprive them and ask for money in exchange for liberty to their families abroad.”