Forced laborers extorted after escaping from Cambodia

By Quoc Thang, Tuyet Nhung   May 21, 2024 | 04:00 am PT
Forced laborers extorted after escaping from Cambodia
Moc Bai border gate in Tay Ninh Province that is next to Cambodia. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Police in the southern Vietnam are investigating a local man accused of threatening and demanding ransom from those who escaped from a forced labor group in Cambodia.

Tran Thanh Luc, 34, was detained by police in Tay Ninh Province, which borders Cambodia, on May 19 for extortion.

According to the police, Thanh and her husband, both natives of Duong Minh Chau District in Tay Ninh, which borders Cambodia, were scammed into working for Kim Sa 3 Company in Bavet City of Cambodia, run by a Chinese man named Bao.

The couple paid money to human smuggling rings hoping to find jobs in Cambodia in April but then were scammed into working at the establishment, known for defrauding others through social media.

In early May, Thanh’s husband was dismissed as he could not meet the employers’ demand. To return to Vietnam, he was told to compensate the group with almost US$1,700.

Thanh asked to quit and return home with her husband, but the Chinese employer required her to pay $2,400 for her release.

Instead of paying, she and five other Vietnamese forced laborers at the facility planned an escape together.

They asked a Vietnamese woman named Tran Thi Thanh The to help smuggle them out of the facility and escape to Vietnam via illegal trails along the border. The also worked at the facility.

The group of six got out of the facility and found their way back to Vietnam earlier this month.

However, on May 14, The called Thanh, saying she was being detained by Bao for aiding their escape.

Tran Thanh Luc at a police station in Tay Ninh Province, May 19, 2024. Photo by police

Tran Thanh Luc at a police station in Tay Ninh Province, May 19, 2024. Photo by police

The company demanded that within three days, Thanh, her husband, and the escapees must return to Cambodia and pay $2,400 each to continue working. If they refused, they would have to compensate $5,000 per person.

Following this, The instructed her brother, Tran Thanh Luc, who lives in Tay Ninh, to come to Thanh’s house and collect the money.

Recently, Luc met with Thanh's husband and threatened that they must pay the full amount or transfer their house ownership to him.

Thanh had given him VND70 million (US$2,750) but Luc continued to threaten more.

She reported him to the police and he was arrested last Sunday while staying at Thanh’s house.

During a search of his residence, the police seized money, foreign currency, documents related to illegal lending, six land use certificates, and two safes yet to be inspected.

Investigators are expanding the case to clarify the roles of those involved and are calling for other victims of this group to come forward.

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