Police in Preah Sihanouk province, in cooperation with Chinese police, on Wednesday raided two rental houses in Sihanoukville and arrested hundreds of Chinese nationals suspected of operating Voice over Internet Protocol scams.
Major General Chuon Narin, provincial police chief, said police arrested 127 nationals, including 11 women, in two separate locations in Sihanoukville.
Maj Gen Narin said that the raid was carried out by provincial police, police from the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Cyber Crime Department, Chinese police officers and with approval from the provincial prosecutor.
He said authorities nabbed 112 suspects hiding in a five-storey building in Buon commune and caught 15 others in a hotel in Pi commune.
“We also cooperated with Chinese police,” he said. “We have their criminal records and arrest warrants. Chinese authority was cooperating with us so well.”
On Wednesday night, provincial court prosecutor Sieng Sok decided to have them sent to Phnom Penh for further questioning, he added.
Maj Gen Narin yesterday said since he was promoted to be Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief, hundreds of Chinese criminals have been arrested and deported over VoIP scams.
“Since I came to be in charge here [in 2015], around 300 people have been arrested in similar cases,” he said. “We just implement court warrants, we don’t just arrest them based on suspicion.”
He referred any further questions to Lieutenant General Y Sok Khy, director of the Interior Ministry’s counter-terrorism and transnational crime department, who led the operation and questioned the suspects in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Lt Gen Sok Khy yesterday said that all 127 Chinese nationals were suspected of extorting money from people in China via VoIP in Sihanoukville.
He said the arrests were made based on a request made by Chinese authority after they identified the suspects who were involved in the case.
“They were involved in VoIP scams and extorting money from people in their country,” Lt Gen Sok Khy said, adding that the suspects are being questioned at the National Police headquarters in Phnom Penh and will be deported to China.
“We will deport them to China as soon as possible,” Lt Gen Sok Khy said.
In June, the General Immigration Department deported 68 Chinese nationals who were caught operating VoIP scams in Preah Sihanouk province.
Kheang Phearom, Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesman, said authorities will not overlook any criminal who commits a crime in the province.
“It’s not only Chinese people, there are bad and good people from everywhere,” Mr Phearom said. “So, we cannot judge any nationality. There are even good and bad Cambodians.”
He lauded the authorities’ efforts on the recent crackdowns on drug crimes and VoIP scams.
“What we are doing is strengthening law enforcement. No matter who they are, they need to obey the law,” he said. “If we find them committing a crime here, they need to face legal consequences.”
In May and January, about 100 Chinese nationals were arrested in connection to VoIP scams in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district and in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city.
In December, immigration police deported 232 Chinese nationals after National Police’s Counter Terrorism and Cross Border Crime Department raided houses in Takeo province over online scams.