Philippine authorities are chasing down fugitive members of a South Korean-led illegal online gambling ring, while preparing charges against nine other members who weren’t nimble enough to evade arrest.
On Friday, members of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) raided a rented house in Cebu City where a suspected illegal online gambling operation was underway. Nine South Korean nationals were detained, including two who are currently fugitives from illegal gambling charges filed in their native land.
RID Division 7 Chief Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal told the SunStar that the gambling operation had been under surveillance for two months before police pounced. Cabal called the operation “a big syndicate” than accepted wagers from overseas bettors in South Korea, Australia and the US, including individual wagers ranging as high as US $60k.
Police seized the usual assortment of computers, phones and log books from the house, which the gang had reportedly occupied for over a year. Given this timeline, police are trying to determine whether the gang has any connection with a different bunch of South Koreans who were nabbed for similar illegal gambling operations in July 2016.
Police seized a number of passports during the raid, but the photos didn’t match the arrested suspects, leading the police to suspect that an additional six South Korean gang members, including suspected ringleader Kim Young Jun, remain at large.
For police in many Asia-Pacific jurisdictions, South Koreans have become the bedbugs of illegal online gambling operations, i.e. they’re everywhere and nearly impossible to eradicate. In addition to the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have all been plagued by unwanted South Korean-led online gambling rings looking to avoid the extremely harsh punishments South Korea metes out to domestic illegal gambling operators.
By contrast, North Korea’s government apparently rewards illegal online gambling operators, provided they work for the state. North Korea is said to be behind a host of illegal online operations in neighboring countries that allegedly generate over $800m per year for the regime. The US government was so concerned by the size of this sum that it approved legislation to penalize anyone caught making online gambling money rain for the regime.