Having allegedly kidnapped, illegally detained, and withheld the passports of three men, four Chinese nationals including a Poipet City casino owner were recently arrested by the Phnom Penh municipal military police.

The Cambodia Daily reports that the casino owner, 55-year-old Ding Chunyaun, allegedly ordered a trio of accomplices to kidnap the three gamblers, all of whom are also Chinese nationals, for not paying debts accumulated at the casino located in Banteay Meanchey province in Cambodia in late December. A statement posted to the military police’s Facebook page identified the casino owner, along with the three accomplices, as being 34-year-old Zhang Janwen, 45-year-old Hao Boshi, and 54-year-old Zhang Xiaofei.

According to the statement, “After a thorough investigation, Phnom Penh municipal military police found that Ding Chunyaun was the ringleader with three other associates,” and, “They are a mafia group that has kidnapped Chinese and other foreigners in Cambodia,” as reported by the news agency.

On Monday, the military police said that the casino owner and his three accomplices concocted a plan to kidnap and extort money from the three gamblers’ families in an attempt to recover approximately $1.22 million in unpaid gambling debts. However, on February 28 the day after indebted gambler, 46-year-old Liu Junshen, reportedly escaped from their custody, the alleged kidnappers apparently decided to turn the other two over to Phnom Penh military police, only to be detained themselves and sent to the Municipal Court on Sunday. Military police reportedly said that photographs and phone messages were sent to Liang’s wife in China.

According to the police, Junshen allegedly owed the casino $300,000, while 30-year-old Zhan Qian Qiang owed $150,000, and 51-year-old Zhun Xiao Liang, the owner of an unidentified Chinese company, was $770,000 in debt.

All three attempted to escape and seek help from the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh, with only Junshen successfully doing so. After Junshen escaped Qiang was said to be responsible for guarding the other two men who were being held in locked cages located in an apartment not far from the casino, police reportedly said.

According to the news agency, it isn’t clear if the four men have been charged.

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