UCA News

60 Indians rescued after Cambodian slave compound revolt

At least another 240 are being held by human traffickers
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stands with Mech Dara, a 2023 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Hero from Cambodia, at the launch of the 2023 human trafficking report in Washington on June 15, 2023. Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are now the epicenter of the $3 trillion industry.

Chinese police escort suspects as they prepare to board a plane at Phnom Penh international airport in this Oct 12, 2017 file photo. Cambodia deported 74 Chinese national suspected of running a telecoms scam to extort money from victims in their home country. (Photo: AFP)


Published: May 23, 2024 06:58 AM GMT
Updated: May 23, 2024 09:21 AM GMT

Sixty Indians rescued from scam compounds in a southern Cambodian city will return home after more than 300 of their compatriots staged a revolt against human traffickers who duped them into accepting false job offers.

The Indian embassy in Phnom Penh said the 60 nationals were victims of “fraudulent employment practices” at the Jinbei-4 compound — a casino complex which has been tied to human trafficking — in Sihanoukville and were ferried to the capital where they were provided with travel documents.

“The embassy is in constant touch with the Cambodian authorities, and necessary assistance and guidance are being provided to these Indian nationals on their way back to India,” the embassy in a statement.

Around 150 people of the 300 are from Visakhapatnam, on India’s central east coast, and nearby areas and have been stranded in Cambodia for more than a year.

Indian police said the trafficked victims alleged they were coerced by Chinese handlers into committing cybercrime and Ponzi schemes after accepting jobs as data entry operators.

Sihanoukville emerged as a hub for human traffickers during the Covid-19 pandemic, initially targeting Chinese and Southeast Asians. They have since broadened their net to include Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis.

Operations have also expanded and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) says Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos are now the epicenter of the US$3 trillion a year industry “that is rapidly evolving into the most powerful criminal network of the modern era.”

The May 20 revolt, also described as “large scale riots” by Visakhapatnam police commissioner A Ravi Shankar also resulted in “many arrests.” However, Cambodian authorities have refrained from commenting about the joint Indian-Cambodian operation.

Cambodian authorities have been accused of going soft on human trafficking and the USIP report found protection of the scamming industry is of strategic interest “to the ruling elites in Myanmar, Cambodia, and other countries” due to the industry’s profitability.

Chhay Kim Khoeun, the Cambodian national police spokesman, told the Kiripost that he was unaware of the case and referred the Cambodian online news portal to Sar Ratha, the Preah Sihanouk police chief.

“I don’t have a report. You have to ask local authorities to be more clear,” Khoeun told the Kiripost. “You can ask Sar Ratha, but I am afraid he won’t answer the phone,” he added before hanging up. Sar Ratha declined to comment.

The USIP report also said the return on cyber scamming in Cambodia alone is estimated at more than $12.5 billion annually — half the country’s formal GDP, with many of the scam compounds owned by local elites.

India has issued several travel advisories cautioning their nationals not to fall prey when seeking jobs in Cambodia and not to breach visa agreements, like working on a tourist visa.

“They have also been advised to not undertake illegal cyber crimes and reach out to the embassy and Cambodian hotline numbers,” the embassy statement said, adding that “a total of 360 Indian nationals had been rescued and repatriated home due to the embassy’s intervention.”

No mention was made of the remaining 240 Indians.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
UCA News
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia