Four Chinese nationals, including a casino owner, concocted a plan to recover about $1.22 million in unpaid gambling debts by kidnapping and extorting three Chinese gamblers, military police said on Monday.
After one of the held men escaped, however, the alleged kidnappers decided to turn the other two over to authorities, then found themselves detained and sent to court instead, statements from the National Military Police said on Monday.
The statement, posted to the military police’s Facebook page, identified the alleged kidnappers as Poipet casino owner Ding Chunyaun, 55, and Zhang Janwen, 34, Hao Boshi, 45 and Zhang Xiaofei, 54.
“After a thorough investigation, Phnom Penh municipal military police found that Ding Chunyaun was the ringleader with three other associates,” a statement said. “They are a mafia group that has kidnapped Chinese and other foreigners in Cambodia.”
The four were accused of kidnapping, illegally detaining and withholding the passports of Zhun Xiao Liang, 51, and Zhan Qian Qiang, 30, whom they handed over to Phnom Penh military police on Wednesday, the day after a third indebted gambler, Liu Junshen, 46, escaped from their custody, according to the statements.
The three men, also Chinese nationals, allegedly owed the casino in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet City a total of $1.22 million.
In late December, Mr. Liang, the owner of a Chinese company that wasn’t identified, lost $770,000 at the casino. Mr. Junshen allegedly owed the casino $300,000, while Mr. Qiang was $150,000 in debt, police said.
Mr. Chunyaun reportedly ordered his accomplices to kidnap the gamblers for not paying their debts. On February 28, the three men attempted to escape to Phnom Penh to seek help from the Chinese Embassy. Only Mr. Junshen got away.
Mr. Qiang was tasked with guarding the other two, who were locked in cages in an apartment near the casino, police said.
Mobile phone messages and photographs were allegedly sent to Mr. Liang’s wife in China in an attempt to extort money, military police said.
It was unclear whether the extortion attempt was successful, or why the alleged kidnappers decided to hand the two men over to military police.
The four suspects were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday. Court spokesman Ly Sophana did not reply to a request for comment and it is not clear if the men have been charged.