Human Trafficking Rings Discovered in Vietnam After 42 Victims Flee Cambodia Casino

Human Trafficking Rings Discovered in Vietnam After 42 Victims Flee Cambodia Casino
A file image of the Cambodian national flag. (Vanna Phon/Unsplash)
Aldgra Fredly

Four human trafficking rings have been found operating across Vietnam after dozens of Vietnamese escaped from a casino in Cambodia where they had been duped into working and exploited.

Col. Dinh Van Noi, director of An Giang province's police department in Vietnam, said on Aug. 23 that trafficking rings operating "in many localities" have accomplices in Cambodia to lure Vietnamese into illegally working in casinos.

A group of 42 escaped from the Golden Phoenix Entertainment casino in Cambodia's Kandal province on Aug. 18 and swam across the Binh Di river separating the two nations. Five of them are women.

A 16-year-old boy who was one of the escapees was found dead in a river section of Vietnam's An Giang province, while another worker was caught by casino guards, VN Express reported.

Police in Vietnam detained Nguyen Thi Le and Le Vand Danh for their roles in smuggling individuals to Cambodia. The casino's manager, a Chinese national, was also arrested on allegations of forced labor.

The Chinese manager acknowledged forced labor practices but claimed the workers owed the casino money. Workers are subject to fines of up to $30,000 if they quit, according to local reports.

'Hellish' Casino

Workers fleeing the casino told police that they had been lured by job listings offering high salaries, but after arriving in Cambodia, they were forced to work illegally in several casinos without rest or pay.
One of the victims, identified as Diep by VN Express, described her four-month employment in the casino as “hell,” where she was forced to work 14 hours every day.

“We were tricked and sold to Cambodia,” she told the news outlet.

She claimed that her captors forced her to scam people into investing money in dating games and threatened her with electrocution if she didn't earn VND 300 million ($12,813) monthly from the scams.

Another victim, Pham Nguyen Anh Tuan, said that he was sold to three casinos after failing to earn money in the initial months. He devised an escape plan after witnessing other Vietnamese being abused.

Pham claimed that the Chinese manager wanted to sell a sick worker who was unable to earn money for the casino. They pleaded for his release and even offered to repay his debt, but their pleas were rejected.

“Besides the one who went missing and the other who was caught, we are very worried for the people who helped us escape,” he said.

The Vietnamese government has sought Cambodia's help with the investigation.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said last week that police have begun checking foreigners staying in Kandal and Preah Sihanoukville provinces to crack down on human trafficking rings.