Southeast Asian Illegal Gambling to Be Targeted by New Coalition
China has joined together with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in order to help combat illegal gambling and scams in Southeast Asia.
The coalition will be working to prevent the activities of criminal groups that have recently become more active in the region. Initially, the group will be primarily focusing on criminal activity in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The aim is to identify criminal gangs, prevent them from growing, and protect victims.
Law Enforcement and Justice Officials to Tackle Illegal Gambling
The plan will see law enforcement work together with criminal justice officials to combat illegal gambling, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and scams. Recently, UNODC released a report detailing how transnational crime groups in the region are involved in money laundering, cybercrime, and more. Furthermore, there is evidence that they are involved in extortion and torture.
The report found that these crime groups will sometimes present themselves as legitimate businesses and may have built relationships with influential companies and officials in the region.
Multi-Billion Dollar Activity
The profits made by organized crime groups in the Philippines are hard to estimate. However, the scam industry is thought to generate as much as $12.5 billion each year, close to half of the Philippines’ GDP. This money is then washed through different businesses in the region, including land-based casinos.
Profits of organized crime groups in the region have reached unprecedented levels, and illicit money is increasingly moving through the regional casino industry and other large cash flow businesses, including through a surge in the use of cryptocurrencies.
UNODC’s regional representative, Jeremy Douglas, has spoken about the threat of trafficking people who are forced to participate in scams and illegal gambling operations. He explained that the gangs are “converging in the region where they see vulnerabilities.”