Philippine authorities said Tuesday they had apprehended eight members of a Chinese kidnap-for-ransom gang, including its leader, who are suspected of preying here on citizens of China, including one victim who was slain last month.
The eight were arrested Saturday in a sting operation that ended at a residential village in San Pedro, a town just south of Manila, the national police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said. An influx of Chinese coming to the country to work in the Philippine gaming industry has been linked to a spike in crimes in recent years.
In December, the gangsters allegedly kidnapped their fellow Chinese nationals, Lyu Long and Liu Xue Xue, who worked at a Chinese-owned electronics firm, CIDG chief Maj. Gen. Joel Napoleon Coronel said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Their supervisor initially paid 400,000 RMB (U.S. $62,000) in ransom for Lyu, but the kidnappers did not release their victims. The company then informed police about the abductions “after receiving information that Lyu Long was killed and dumped in a deep ravine,” Coronel said.
“Police operatives were immediately dispatched to investigate and confirmed that the decomposing body was Lyu Long’s, based on the clothes he was wearing when he was last seen and on the video that was sent by the kidnappers,” the CIDG chief said.
In the wake of the killing, police hatched a sting operation when the suspects kept demanding more money for the release of Liu Xue Xue, Coronel said.
A gang member, identified as Qun Den, had agreed to meet the victims’ supervisor but was arrested on Saturday. He then led police officers to the gang’s safehouse where they held and allegedly had assaulted Lie Xue Xue sexually.
“The female victim was rescued and the kidnappers arrested,” Coronel said, adding that firearms, ammunition, and money – believed to be part of the initial ransom payment – were recovered at the crime scene.
Qun Den is believed to be a leader of the Xiaopen-Nanlu Chinese kidnap-for-ransom gang, which has been known to operate locally and target members of the Chinese expatriate community employed in online casinos.
The same group is believed responsible for the abduction – also in December – of Guang Lin, whose relatives paid ransom in hopes of securing his freedom. His captors, however, shot him and left him for dead after dumping him in a creek, the police said.
But Guang Lin survived the gunshot wound to the nape of his neck, and recovered from his injuries to identify the gangsters, authorities said.
In July 2017, Philippine police arrested 43 foreigners – many of them Chinese nationals – who were suspected of kidnapping a Singaporean woman, who was gambling at a local casino, and holding her for ransom. The woman was rescued in a raid by police on the suspects’ hideout in the Metropolitan Manila area.
The Philippine Bureau of Immigration estimates there are some 150,000 Chinese nationals employed in the gaming industry here.
The government of President Rodrigo Duterte, who has sought closer ties with Beijing, in the past has resisted calls to put a freeze on the influx of Chinese nationals.
Reported by BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.