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2 Laotian teens return home after release from Myanmar scam casino

The girls were part of a group that was trafficked to the Chinese-run casino near the Thai border.

Two teenage girls who were held at a Chinese-run casino in Myanmar for more than two years have returned home to Laos after a 40,000 yuan (US$5,500) fee was paid to gain their freedom, they told RFA.

The two girls were part of a group of 16 young Laotians trafficked to work as scammers at a place called the “Casino Kosai” in an isolated development near the city of Myawaddy, the scene of recent fighting in Myanmar’s civil war.

A group of people helped get them out of the casino and brought them to the Laos border, they told Radio Free Asia. The 40,000 yuan fee was paid by their Chinese boyfriends to facilitate the release, one of the girls said.

“The Chinese boss finally agreed to release my friend and I, but we had to pay a fee,” she told RFA. “We also had to find those who we can trust. Otherwise, we could end up being sold to another place.”

ENG_LAO_TraffickingCasino_04122024.2.jpg
The Chinese-owned ‘Casino Kosai’ (shown) in Myawaddy, Myanmar near the Thai border. (Citizen journalist)

Recent intense fighting in the area between Myanmar’s military junta and anti-junta rebels delayed their travel to the border by several days, they said. The two girls arrived in Luang Namtha province in northern Laos on Monday. 

RFA confirmed that the other 14 young Laotians remain at the casino, where they have been forced to call people and trick them into buying fake investments. 

If they don’t reach quota goals, they are struck with rods or forced to stand in the sun for hours, their parents told RFA.

“I called my son last week and he told me that the Chinese boss said that they may release some of them on June 15,” the mother of one of the remaining 14 told RFA. “I have to wait and see first. If nothing happens, I will try other ways to help my son.”

ENG_LAO_TraffickingCasino_04122024.3.jpg
Trafficked Lao youths are seen after gaining their freedom from a Chinese-run casino in Myawaddy, Myanmar, April 2023. Radio Free Asia has blurred their faces to protect their identities for their safety. (Citizen journalist)

The families of the young Laotians have appealed to government officials on several occasions to intervene in the case. 

A reliable source told RFA on Wednesday that the 14 teenagers can be released if the casino is paid a US$3,000 fee.

“It seems impossible for me to get that amount of money,” another parent said. “I feel very hopeless now to hear it will cost this amount of money.”

Translated by Phouvong. Edited by Matt Reed and Malcolm Foster.


This content originally appeared on Radio Free Asia and was authored by By RFA Lao.


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