Philippine Police Raid Online Gambling Operation Over Sex Trafficking, Torture

June 5, 2024
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Philippine law enforcement agencies have raided another foreign-facing online gambling operation and detained at least 186 foreign nationals and Filipinos after receiving reports of sex trafficking and torture on site.
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Philippine law enforcement agencies have raided another foreign-facing online gambling operation and detained at least 186 foreign nationals and Filipinos after receiving reports of sex trafficking and torture on site.

The joint operation on Wednesday (June 5), executed by Presidential Anti-Organised Crime Commission (PAOCC) personnel and Philippine National Police officers, targeted a compound in Porac township, Pampanga Province, which abuts Clark Freeport north of Manila.

Media photos and video of armed officers in military attire guarding the compound’s entrance match satellite images of a compound of around 30 new buildings abutting the Royal Garden Golf & Country Club in Porac.

A PAOCC spokesperson told the Philippine Inquirer that the authorities detained 157 foreign nationals and 29 Filipinos in the raid, which followed allegations from “confidential informants” of sexual trafficking of a female foreign national and torture of “male foreigners”.

“All foreign nationals are now undergoing immigration biometrics,” the Inquirer quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The spokesperson added that the raid’s warrant named officers and employers of Lucky South 99, a company whose online gambling operation in neighbouring Angeles City was raided in September 2022.

Forty-three foreign nationals working under duress were rescued and a Chinese national was arrested in the 2022 operation after a complaint from family members that a female Chinese national was being held for ransom.

Another 200 foreign employees with the company were recovered from a nearby hotel, with most lacking documentation and passports.

Lucky South 99 Outsourcing Inc. is one of 272 online gambling service providers to have lost its licence to operate in the Philippines, according to data on the website of PAGCOR, the national regulator.

It was not immediately clear whether Lucky South 99 was operating under other licences or approvals in the Porac facility raided today.

Meanwhile, the Drug Enforcement Agency on Tuesday raided an apparently unconnected foreign-facing online gambling company in Angeles City over suspected methamphetamine dealing to employees.

The raid, which took place some 2km northeast of today’s operation, resulted in the arrest of three Chinese nationals and the confiscation of 500g of meth worth 3.4m pesos ($58,000).

The raids this week add to a growing list of operations against legal and illegal online gambling operators over human trafficking and enslavement of local and foreign employees. They have resulted in the rescue and deportation of thousands of victims from around the world, led by Chinese nationals.

They also coincide with the national ombudsman’s suspension this week of the ethnic Chinese mayor of Bamban, a Tarlac Province township just north of Clark Freeport, over suspected criminal actions related to a raided online gambling operation whose land she formerly controlled.

Two colleagues of the mayor are also under suspension and 49 police officers have been removed from the jurisdiction over alleged corruption in supporting the operation, which allegedly engaged in torture of workers, cyber-scamming operations and even espionage against the Philippine government.

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