More than 200 suspects involved in Myanmar-based cyber scams have been detained by police in one of the largest joint crackdowns between Beijing and the Southeast Asian country, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced on Tuesday.
The operation brought down 11 cyber scam bases in northern Myanmar, where 269 fraud suspects were detained, including 186 Chinese nationals who have been repatriated, according to a statement from the ministry.
Among those detained were 21 people who played key roles in scams involving 120 million yuan (US$16.5 million).
It did not give details about how the crackdown was carried out. Photos showed suspects being escorted off buses in the presence of Chinese police officers. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has yet to respond to questions from the Post.
The operation is the latest in China’s efforts to root out Myanmar-based gangs that frequently target Chinese nationals, luring them with investment schemes and promises of love or employment, then detaining them and forcing them to work as phone operators, computer programmers and other jobs as part of online scams.
Last month, police in central China’s Henan province arrested 225 suspects at a scam base in northern Myanmar, Henan Television reported.
In unrelated cases, six Chinese fraud suspects were repatriated from Myanmar last month, according to state-owned broadcaster CCTV, including one suspect who was reportedly the leader of a gang.
In June, another six Chinese fraud suspects were arrested and escorted back to China under a joint security action between China, Thailand and Myanmar.
Most of the scam bases in northern Myanmar are in regions such as Shan state and Kayin state, parts of which are de facto independent. These areas are not under the effective control of Myanmar’s government, making cooperation with China difficult.