Continuing police sweeps for illegal immigrants netted eight additional Chinese nationals Tuesday morning in a residence near Phsar Thmei, Don Penh district officials said.
Don Penh District Police Chief Pol Pithey said police initially detained 12 Chinese nationals after raiding a flat near Phnom Penh’s main market area. But four later provided police with travel documents, said Pol Pithey, adding the authenticity of the documents was being checked by investigators.
According to Suon Rin Dy, Don Penh district governor, the eight Chinese claim they also have valid travel documents.
“The Chinese assert they all have passports but they are in the hands of the ringleaders….As yet I cannot conclude if they have passports or not as police have not seen them,” he said.
The latest arrests follow weekend sweeps on three residences in Phnom Penh and Kandal province which netted 131 Chinese immigrants. More than 610 Chinese nationals without proper travel documents have been discovered in safe houses in the past two months.
Faced with multiplying numbers of arrested Chinese nationals in recent weeks, Immigration Police Chief Prok Saroeun said Sunday his department can no longer provide detention space. He said all additional detainees must be kept at arrest sites.
Currently, 121 Chinese nationals are being kept at two villas—one in Phnom Penh and the other in Kandal province—and an additional 10 are being detained at the Angkor Hotel in the Prampi Makara district of Phnom Penh.
Pol Pithey said the eight arrested Tuesday would remain at district police headquarters.
A senior immigration police officer based at Immigration Police headquarters near Pochentong Airport said Monday that the eight-room detention center there was intended to house illegal immigrants for short periods of time and not the mass influx of immigrants which has occurred since the Aug 19 arrest of 225 illegal immigrants.
“Normally we would never put that many [immigrants] in the building. It is a very small building and it is full,” said the official.