Chinese security officials are celebrating the apprehension of ten “major suspects” accused of large-scale telecom fraud who were captured in Myanmar and forcibly repatriated this week.
The group arrived in the southern Chinese city of Kunming on Tuesday aboard a jet chartered by the Chinese Public Security Bureau — the latest in a massive joint police operation to shut down call centers that operate in the largely lawless northern regions of Myanmar, just over the border from China.
These call centers often employ enslaved people from China and across Southeast Asia who target vulnerable consumers in China and around the world.
While the military junta in Yangon is nominally cooperating with Beijing to apprehend the scammers and return them to China, there are also reports that many of the call centers are also protected by armed militias aligned with the government.
These latest arrests add to the 31,000 suspects who’ve already been handed back to China for prosecution but it’s believed that more than 100,000 other scammers remain active in Myanmar.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? The Chinese government is under mounting domestic pressure to bring the telecom fraud crisis under control. Joint counter operations are now underway across Southeast Asia in a bid to crack down on this crime wave that Beijing has so far been unable to control.
- Observer: Ministry of Public Security: Bai Suocheng and other 10 major criminal suspects in northern Myanmar were successfully escorted back to China (in Chinese)
- United States Institute of Peace: A Criminal Cancer Spreads in Southeast Asia by Priscilla A. Clapp and Jason Tower