A cross-border operation by Thai and Cambodian police earlier this week rescued 66 Thai nationals from captivity in Cambodia, where they were forced or tricked into running telephone scams.
According to a report from Reuters, the operation broke up what authorities described as a part of a wider Chinese-run transnational crime scheme. The rescue came a few days after Cambodian police rescued 16 Malaysian nationals held captive in Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s south coast, as Luke Hunt wrote in The Diplomat this week.
These two cases were the most recent pages in a thickening catalog of evidence about organized crime rackets that are ensnaring unknown numbers of Southeast Asians. The stories are all much the same: workers are typically drawn to Cambodia through social media advertisements promising high-paying jobs. As soon as they arrive in the country, however, their travel documents are seized and they are held and forced by racketeers to make scam calls in their own languages. Those who refuse are subject to various forms of violence and mistreatment.