Thursday, November 23, 2023

Myanmar authorities "handed over 31,000 telecom fraud suspects to China"


More than 100,000 people engage in telecom fraud each day in at least 1,000 scam centers in Myanmar

There's much more lurid detail in this article by the "United States Institute of Peace" from a few weeks ago:

Myanmar’s military has lost control of substantial sections of the country’s border with China in recent days, as forces fighting the coup regime coordinate their attacks in an unprecedented way. The immediate aim of the combined offensive was to shut down lucrative criminal activity in enclaves along the Chinese frontier that are run by military-sponsored border guard forces. Significantly, in doing so, the insurgents took advantage of China’s recent efforts to stifle scams run from the enclaves that target Chinese citizens. This could mark a turning point in the national struggle against military rule, one that would pose serious new challenges to the anti-coup leadership, the international community and Myanmar’s neighbors.


Since May, China has sent Myanmar’s generals a clear message: It is unacceptable to harbor forced-labor scam syndicates in Myanmar that traffic hundreds of thousands of people from around the world and steal and launder billions of dollars a month from a global population of victims. Beijing insisted that the military control its border guard forces (BGFs) hosting the scam enclaves. The junta didn’t just ignore China’s demands. It stood by as the BGF in Karen state doubled down with public accolades for its blatantly criminal activity on the Thai border, and the BGF in Kokang, fathered by coup leader Min Aung Hlaing as part of a 2009 military operation, ramped up its criminal operations right on China’s doorstep.

Over the summer, China raised the stakes by giving the Chinese media and film industry a green light to dramatize the chaos in Myanmar with popular films illuminating the fate of Chinese nationals who ended up in one of the thousands of forced-labor scam compounds now lining Myanmar’s borders. The films — “No More Bets,” “Tainted Love” and “Lost in the Stars” — have netted more than $1 billion at the box office

And the BBC posted more background

Under [the four families] the remote, impoverished backwater of Laukkaing was transformed into a rowdy casino hub of gaudy high-rise towers and seedy red-light districts.


Initially developed to take advantage of Chinese demand for gambling, which is illegal in China and many other neighbouring countries, Laukkaing's casinos evolved into a lucrative front for money laundering, trafficking and in particular for dozens of scam centres.


More than 100,000 foreign nationals, many of them Chinese, were estimated to have been lured to these scam centres, where they were effectively imprisoned and forced to work


In the early hours of the morning of 20 October, a group of scam workers was being transferred from Crouching Tiger Villa, probably in anticipation of a move against the scam centre by the Chinese police.

A number of workers, reported to be between 50 and 100, tried to escape, and the scam centre guards opened fire, killing several. Some accounts say there were undercover Chinese police officers among the dead.

That prompted a strongly-worded letter from the local government office in the neighbouring Chinese province - and the announcement of arrest warrants by the Chinese police