Cambodian casino raid finds Vietnamese murder fugitives

By Bui Toan   April 9, 2024 | 04:59 am PT
Cambodian casino raid finds Vietnamese murder fugitives
Ngo Quyet Nhu (R) and his brother Ngo Viet Tien are arrested by police forces of Vietnam and Cambodia at a casino complex at the border, March 15, 2024. Photo courtesy of Phu Yen police
Vietnamese and Cambodian police jointly raided a casino at the border, capturing two fugitives accused of murder.

Five Vietnamese police officers and 25 officers from Cambodia approached a hotel and casino complex in Cambodia’s Ratanakiri Province, located next to Vietnam’s border, on March 15. The building is located in a secluded area surrounded by mountains and forests, where Ngo Quyet Nhu, 27, and his brother Ngo Viet Tien, 25, were hiding.

The two brothers were wanted for murder they are accused of committing in 2022.

The police officers split into three teams.

One team overwhelmed the guards of the building, while another blocked all the exits of the facility. The other team then raided the 5th floor of the building, where the "impregnable" room of the casino’s boss was located, which was where Nhu and Tien had been hiding. The brothers tried to retaliate, but they were no match for the officers.

"The entire operation took five minutes, but we had planned this extensively with Cambodian police over a long period of time. The goal was to do things quickly, not allowing the brothers a chance to slip from our grasp like last time," an officer of the Phu Yen Province police force said.

At the time of the raid, the casino’s owner was at a border gate in Dak Nong Province in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

Life on the run

Nhu and Tien, along with other accomplices, allegedly used weapons to injure several people over debt conflicts in August 2022. The group was arrested, but Nhu and Tien managed to escape and were wanted by police in Phu Yen.

Officers said the two brothers were highly vigilant, often choosing casino facilities near the border to hide in while traveling on Cambodian routes, as they knew Vietnamese police did not have the authority to capture people within Cambodian territory.

They also received help from fellow criminals to evade police. From Jan. 23 to 27, Nhu and Tien planned to move from a casino near a border gate in Gia Lai to another casino near the border gate of Dak Nong, using Cambodian roads. However, when they realized that police officers were watching their moves, they changed plans and continued to hide.

"Nhu and Tien had the advantage of making good connections wherever they go. The people near the casino facilities are willing to protect and shelter them, from the bosses to the guards," officers said.

Police officers bring two Vietnamese fugitives to a police station in Cambodia's Ratanakiri Province. Video courtesy of Phu Yen police

After over a year of searching, in March, Phu Yen police discovered that Nhu and Tien were working as guards at a hotel and casino complex in Ratanakiri. They only showed up at night and rarely went out during the day. Besides being situated at a remote location, the casino was also equipped with several security cameras.

"Our plan to capture them therefore encountered many difficulties," said a statement by officers associated with the operation. "Just the presence of a stranger near the casino is enough to sound the alarm," officers said.

After the capture of Nhu and Tien, police units from Ratanakiri then extracted confessions out of them. The two admitted to have illegally entered Cambodia by traveling on lesser known paths and forging papers. They were detained for further investigation in accordance with Cambodian law.

The police of Phu Yen then cooperated with representatives of Vietnamese police forces in Cambodia to finish procedures to bring the two fugitives back to Vietnam for their murder investigation.

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