Over 100 scam-gang suspects arrested in Myanmar

RFA Burmese
Over 100 scam-gang suspects arrested in Myanmar Junta troops raided a suspected online scamming gang behind the 1G1-7 Hotel in Tachileik, Myanmar, a city on the border with Thailand, Feb. 23, 2024.
Telegram/People Media

Burmese junta troops arrested over 100 people during a raid at a casino on the Thai-Myanmar border, locals said on Friday. 

Soldiers and police arrested Myanmar, Thai and Chinese nationals, locals said. They are currently in custody, but no further details about their location or identity are known. 

The compound where the raid occurred was the site of an online gambling den in Tachileik, a city in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state. 

The region that surrounds the city comprises northern Thailand, eastern Myanmar and southern Laos, and is known as the Golden Triangle, which is notorious for gambling, trafficking and fraud.

A resident declining to be named for safety reasons told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the 1G1-7 Hotel in Tachileik’s San Sai Kha neighborhood, where the casino crackdown occurred, was a long-standing institution in the city.

“[T]he casino, which was opened behind the 1G1-7 Hotel, has been open for about a decade,” he said. “It was raided and people were arrested in the morning.”

Troops and police gather outside the 1G1-7 Hotel in Tachileik city, Myanmar, Feb. 23, 2024 [Telegram/People Media]

Another Tachileik resident said there were hundreds of online gambling businesses in the 11 neighborhoods of the city and in its surrounding villages. Many operate in homes and hotels, he said. 

“Houses are entirely rented, and the hotels were rented out by floors for operating [online casinos],” he said. “Chinese and Thai nationals are also involved.”

Online money scamming gangs often disguise their operations as casinos, locals said. In 2023, more than 40,000 Chinese nationals were deported from Shan state for staying illegally in Myanmar and working in illicit businesses and scam centers.

This is the first time police have cracked down on scam centers in Tachileik, locals said. 

The junta has not officially released any information on Friday’s arrests. RFA reached out to Shan state’s junta spokesperson, Khun Thein Maung, but he did immediately respond. 

Pro-military channels on the social messaging app Telegram, however, shared that the people arrested in Tachileik were committing online fraud as part of an organization known as “Kyar Pyant.” One channel reported that the Chinese gang, which specializes in online fraud, was raided by junta security forces.

State-owned newspapers reported on Feb. 9 that more than 50,000 foreigners, mostly made up of Chinese nationals, were transferred back to their respective countries for illegally staying in Myanmar from last Oct. 5 to Feb. 8.

Some 48,803 Chinese, 1,071 Vietnamese, 537 Thais, 133 Malaysians, 20 Koreans, and 18 Lao nationals were transferred, the statement said. 

In November, 19 South Koreans were rescued by junta forces after being forced to work in Tachileik in an illegal business. 

RFA Burmese, part of BenarNews-affiliated Radio Free Asia, produced this report.


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