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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Illegal POGO workers deported to China, Vietnam

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Updated on February 22 // 10:19PM

Around 43 Chinese nationals and one Vietnamese involved in illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) were deported Thursday, from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1.

They were among the fifth batch of foreign workers arrested during a raid by the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), Department of Justice, and the Philippine National Police last October for violating immigration laws.

PAOCC Undersecretary Gilbert Cruz said the 44 individuals failed to provide proper documents such as passports and travel authority during their stay in the country.

Cruz noted that the government spent P35 million to arrange the deportation process of the illegal aliens.

This comes after the National Capital Region Police Office last week announced the arrest of at least 11 individuals in an anti-illegal online gambling operation in Parañaque City.

The operation, conducted in coordination with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), also resulted in the seizure of computer sets and other electronic devices used in the illegal business.

NCRPO director Maj. Gen. Jose Melencio Nartatez Jr. said the raid was made after Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Jaime Guray issued a warrant against the establishment situated at BF Northwest Subdivision in Barangay BF Homes.

Arrested were Encar Cordova, Giovanni Bautista, Jian Paolo Mallari, Jeromell Lioc, Mico Christopher Alcala, Benjamin Edgar Almazco, Jeffrey Simoza, John Erick Sebastian, Erwin Asis, John Marie, and Christopher Rick Cabatbat.

The suspects were caught red-handed operating the illegal online gaming platform “Big Bet.”

“They scammed clients and lost the money they had spent on the (online) casino,” said Nartatez.

The suspects are now detained at the NCRPO detention cell and will be charged with violating Presidential Decree 1602 (Prescribing Stiffer Penalties on Illegal Gambling) and Republic Act (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) before the prosecutor’s office in Parañaque City.

Onsite examination revealed that the confiscated gadgets contained evidence of the group’s illegal online activities. Nartatez said the suspects were previously employees of a POGO company who started their own online casino hub, earning around P200 million in 2022.

Further investigation revealed that one of the suspects, Cabatbat, has a pending arrest warrant for the crime of murder and was tagged as the Most Wanted Person in Central Luzon.

The operation was part of a unified effort to intensify the fight against illegal online gambling, with PAGCOR collaborating with law enforcement authorities and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

Authorities advise the public to stop patronizing illegal online gaming sites and play on legal platforms to protect themselves.

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