This is the latest twist in the stunning downfall of the military-backed Chinese mafia in Myanmar.
→ Bai Suocheng, Wei Chaoren and Liu Zhengxiang led three of four families which ruled Laukkaing on Myanmar’s north-eastern border with China. They were taken to China on a chartered flight, with seven others. The four families took over control of Laukkaing in 2009. Liu Guoxi, who led the fourth family, died in 2020.
→ General Min Aung Hlaing is known to have supported the Chinese mafia in Laukkaing. For years, China had been pressing his regime to rein in the scam centres, where people are trapped and forced to run telephone and online scams targeting victims everywhere.
→ The UN estimates that hundreds of thousand of people have been trafficked into these centres across South East Asia. About 44,000 people suspected to be involved in the scam centres have been handed over to China from Myanmar so far, the Ministry of Public Security said.
→ With their close ties to the military, the Godfather-esque “four families” in Laukkaing developed extensive business networks in Myanmar, with stakes in mining, energy, infrastructure and casinos in other countries like Cambodia. They established links with organised crime networks in Macao and south-eastern China. Initially developed to take advantage of Chinese demand for gambling, which is illegal in China and many other neighbouring countries.
→ Laukkaing’s casinos evolved into a lucrative front for money laundering, trafficking and in particular for dozens of scam centres. More than 100,000 foreign nationals, many of them Chinese, were estimated to have been lured to these scam centres, where they were effectively imprisoned and forced to work long hours running sophisticated online fraud operations targeting victims all over the world.