Police on Saturday arrested nine Bangladeshi nationals during a raid on a central Phnom Penh bar suspected of hosting a human trafficking ring, including one of the alleged ringleaders and his victims.
Two Pakistanis, an Iranian and a Filipino were also arrested in Kandal province as part of the operation while traveling on a bus toward Poipet City, next to the Thai border, but were later released.
Uk Heisela, head of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said on Sunday that his officers had raided the Euro Bar on Street 63 at about 7:30 on Saturday morning, where they arrested the owner, Alom Manirul, 37, and eight other Bangladeshi men he was allegedly holding captive. He said the authorities had been tipped off by another Bangladeshi man who escaped from the bar two days earlier.
According to Major General Heisela, the victims had entered Cambodia on March 29 with valid passports and tourist visas in hopes of making it to Malaysia to find work. But on arrival, he said, Mr. Manirul confiscated the men’s passports and detained them at his bar with the intention of extorting their families in exchange for their onward travel.
“The Bangladeshis are aged 24 to 42,” he said. “They said they had given $4,500 [each] to the ringleaders to get to a third country. But the ringleader, Mr. Alom Manirul, said he had received $2,470 from three of them” in total.
He said the nine trafficking victims, including the one who had escaped and informed police, would be deported back to Bangladesh at their own expense and that Mr. Manirul would be sent to court today to face charges. Another suspected ringleader, identified only as Miraz, is believed to have left Cambodia for Malaysia.
Also staying at the bar were a couple, an Iranian man and a Filipino woman, whom Mr. Manirul had met in Malaysia and invited to Cambodia with the suggestion that they start a business here, and two Pakistani men he had met at the NagaWorld casino, according to Maj. Gen. Heisela. He said the four had entered Cambodia legally and were released after police determined that they were not part of the trafficking scheme.