Chinese Crime Casinos Strike Again as 700 Malaysians Held for Ransom in Laos

  • A Chinese-owned casino in Laos is detaining the 700 workers and wants a high ransom for them
  • Golden Triangle crime networks tempt workers with jobs and make then work as online scammers
  • An escapee said that Chinese employers confine workers, take their passports and phones away
  • The Philippines is to deport about 40,000 Chinese workers in response to gambling-related crimes
Laos map
Around 700 Malaysian workers lured to Laos in the hope of jobs in its gambling district are now being held for ransom by a Chinese-owned casino. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Reign of terror

The reign of terror spread by Chinese crime networks across southeast Asia continues after it emerged a Laos casino is holding for ransom around 700 Malaysian workers.

holding the workers against their will

On Monday, Washington DC-based Benar News reported that a Chinese-owned casino and resort in northern Laos is holding the workers against their will, with managers supposedly abusing them and demanding a high ransom for their release.

According to Benar, secretary general of the Malaysia International Humanitarian Organization Hishamuddin Hashim said last week that employees trapped in Laos had “asked for help from Lao police but received no response.”

The workers were tempted to northern Laos by offers of jobs in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Commonly in these situations the crime organizations use foreign workers as online scammers, beating and torturing them to ensure their cooperation.

Foreign workers vulnerable

Benar reported on Monday that four Malaysians have now escaped Laos, with six others making it to the Malaysian embassy in the capital Vientiane. However, Hashim said the majority of workers:

continue to be exploited, trafficked or even killed.”

The news source cited an escaped ex-online scammer from Laos who told Radio Free Asia that foreign workers duped into jobs in the SEZ found it difficult to leave and were vulnerable to abuse. “Their Chinese employers confiscate their passports and cell phones, and most of the workers are confined to their buildings,” the unnamed source said.

The Golden Triangle SEZ is a casino and tourism destination popular with Chinese nationals on the borders of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. The US-sanctioned, Chinese-born gangster-tycoon Zhao Wei allegedly runs the SEZ.

Last week the UN Office on Drugs and Crime warned of the SEZs becoming “major trafficking and money laundering hubs for the crime networks.”

Growing criminal threat

According to news reports, a Malaysian embassy official in Vientiane asked to comment on the 700 detainees stated: “Right now we’re doing some research on the issue before we can answer your questions.”

deporting about 40,000 Chinese workers

The Malaysians join a rapidly growing cast of victims preyed on by the Chinese crime network across southeast Asia. Last week, the Philippines announced it was shuttering 175 offshore gambling operators and deporting about 40,000 Chinese workers as part of an effort to rid the country of the criminal threat.

On August 18, a video went viral of 40 Vietnamese workers escaping from a Chinese-owned casino in Cambodia. One month later, 60 more Vietnamese fled from another Cambodian casino.