Authorities in the Philippines have disrupted a major kidnapping gang that was abducting high-rolling gamblers from Manila casinos.
On Thursday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) had detained 45 foreigners suspected of operating a kidnapping ring responsible for a string of abductions of international tourists from local casinos in recent months.
On Tuesday, the BI’s Fugitive Search Unit and the PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group conducted raids that resulted in the detention of 26 foreigners suspected of involvement in the kidnapping ring. A follow-up raid netted a further 19 suspects, none of whom were willing to identify themselves or able to show legal immigration documents.
In the course of the original raids, the authorities freed a Singaporean woman identified as Wu Yan, who said she’d been forcibly abducted while visiting the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila. Wu said her four kidnappers – three men and one woman – took her to a room at the Bayview International Towers, where she was beaten and threatened with worse if she didn’t give them P9m (US $180k).
Wu was able to identify her three male kidnappers from among the original 26 suspects detained on Tuesday. Two of the men were Malayisan nationals while the third, the alleged ringleader, is Chinese. Agents from Interpol and China’s Ministry of Public Security are assisting their Philippine counterparts in the investigation.
Such kidnappings are by no means unique to the Philippines. Macau’s quarterly crime statistics routinely show a high rate of gaming-related ‘detentions’ and Cambodia’s border casinos are rife with stories of gamblers being held against their will. However, these stories traditionally involve gamblers who are unable to repay gambling debts, not people who are merely observed gambling large amounts of their own money.
While the Philippine authorities are to be commended for rescuing the Singaporean woman and disrupting the kidnappers’ operations, the local casino industry really doesn’t need any more negative press, particularly after a gunman’s rampage led to the deaths of 37 casino customers at Resorts World Manila last month.