On 26 June, the Philippines National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) raided Philippines offshore gaming operator (Pogo) Xinchuang’s premises after a month-long surveillance operation.
The unit’s director, Brigadier-General Sidney Hernia, said that the organisation decided to infiltrate the Las Piñas City-based offshore operator after receiving information of alleged criminal activity happening at the site.
Among other criminal acts, the authorities said that they are now in possession of evidence linking the company to incidents of human trafficking, cryptocurrency and love scams. Following the raid, the police booked five Chinese nationals on human trafficking charges.
Historically, human trafficking has been an endemic problem for offshore operators. Since Pogo targets foreign consumers, principally in mainland China, language abilities are particularly prized by traffickers.
Police rescue over 2,500 people
The police said that they rescued over 2,500 people in the raid suspected of being victims of trafficking. This included 1,534 Filipinos and over 1,000 foreign nationals from countries such as China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
After the raid, the police sent the foreign nationals back to their respective embassies.
“We condemn all criminal activities that violate Philippine laws and human rights – regardless of nationality,” said Pagcor chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco.
“As we have always said before, Pagcor will not hesitate to impose sanctions on erring licensees and accredited service providers. Similarly, we will continue to cooperate with our partner law enforcement agencies to ensure that responsible and regulated gaming is observed,” he said.
The police seized a number of computer units, SIM cards, mobile phones and passports in the raid which will all be the subject of a forensic investigation.
Pogo crackdown continues
Following the raid, Pagcor presented the business with a show cause order. In its response to this notice, the Las Piñas City-based offshore operator will be expected to defend itself against the allegations levelled against it and to explain why it is that the regulator should not cancel its licence.
In addition to the notice, Pagcor ordered the business to cease all offshore gaming activities prior to the completion of an ongoing investigation by the PNP.
The raid is just the latest in a string by the Filipino authorities.
In May, the police raided the offices of gaming service provider CGC Technologies, which is accused of several serious offenses including credit card fraud and human trafficking.
In June, a number of Filipino state agencies joined the newly founded Clark Security Advisory Council to better coordinate work combating illicit Pogo activities.