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‘All I may suppose was, I am about to die’

Starting within the second half of 2021, Taiwanese nationals had been lured by high-paying jobs to Cambodian rip-off rings the place they had been detained, crushed, resold, and in any other case enslaved. In keeping with a tough estimate by Taiwan’s Nationwide Police Company, there are probably hundreds of victims. 

Why are Taiwanese flocking to Cambodia in droves? How did this fantasy journey develop into a nightmare?

One journalist spent weeks interviewing victims who escaped after being trafficked to Cambodia. From their private experiences, we learn the way they fell prey to traffickers and scammers.

The next is an element two of a four-part digest. This sequence was initially printed in August 2022 by The Reporter, an impartial investigative information outlet in Taiwan. RFA obtained the rights to republish elements of the sequence in English.


In March 2022, a younger couple in Taiwan was on the lookout for alternatives. Guan Jie, 28, and Yi An, 30, (pseudonyms) had opened a retailer collectively, however had been pressured to shut due to the pandemic, leaving Guan Jie with tens of hundreds of U.S. {dollars} in debt.

At the moment, a pal of Guan Jie’s that he had identified for 10 years launched the couple to a job marketed on the Fb group “Aspect Door Jobs,” working back-end customer support in a resort known as “New MGM Section II.” The job description learn: “A month-to-month wage of NT$40,000-50,000 (U.S. $1,300-1600), 8 days off a month, typing personnel. Journey to Cambodia.” For many individuals, working overseas is a dream come true—particularly for Guan Jie and Yi An, who had by no means been outdoors of Taiwan.

“I believed it could be nice to have the ability to work overseas,” Guan Jie stated in an interview. 

They took the bait. In Taiwan, the human trafficking ring first supplied a complicated pretend firm profile. The couple was informed that the place the place they might keep included gyms, rooms for {couples}, and different perks. The trafficker additionally personally introduced Guan Jie and Yi An from outdoors Taipei to signal a contract with a lodge within the metropolis and the middleman even helped Guan Jie repay two money owed of a number of thousand. “I believed on the time, oh my God, why are they being so good!” Guan Jie smiled wryly. 

The trafficker took them to get passports, take PCR assessments, and checked them right into a lodge in downtown Taipei a number of nights earlier than boarding the aircraft. On March 11, Guan Jie, Yi An, Guan Jie’s pal, and two different Taiwanese – a complete of 5 folks – took a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and had been despatched on to the coastal city of Sihanoukville. From the primary contact with the Taiwanese trafficking group to their departure and touchdown, not more than per week had passed by. 

Guan Jie stated he shortly discovered that he had been bought to a trafficking ring after being lured to Cambodia by “pig sellers,” or victims who had been pressured to search out new targets for the operation.

“A gaggle of pig sellers purchased us and bought us once more. We had been handled as animals, not folks,” he stated.

Guan Jie and Yi An had been “assigned” comparable jobs, however the goal they had been after was foreigners.

“We simply used Google Translate to attach emotionally [to the victims]. After we talked for some time, we transferred them to senior workers to “reel them in,” Yi An stated. 

She stated that the corporate additionally employed international girls who would video chat with targets to deceive them.

An opportunity to flee

Guan Jie and Yi An stated they had been “fortunate” to not have been crushed throughout their time being held by the trafficking ring, though they noticed different victims being “handled” by members of the ring.

Guan Jie stated that generally the music within the workplace would immediately be turned up loud.

“I knew that [next door] somebody was being electrocuted once more,” he stated. “All I may suppose was, I am about to die.”

Guan Jie stated that he tried to obey his captors’ orders, however he wasn’t good at luring new victims and confronted the danger of being “resold” to a brand new trafficking ring due to his poor efficiency.

“Once I knew I may be resold, I began calling for assist,” Guan Jie stated. He knew that even when the possibilities had been slim that he can be rescued, he needed to take an opportunity. 

Most of these held at trafficking rings within the Sihanoukville industrial park nonetheless have entry to social media. The ring that detained Guan Jie solely required folks handy over their cell telephones throughout work hours, so throughout his off-hours, he searched the web for methods to flee from Cambodia. At first, he known as the Taipei Financial and Cultural Workplace in Vietnam – Taiwan’s de facto embassy within the nation – for emergency help and wrote a petition to the Taiwanese authorities, however to no avail.

Later, Guan Jie contacted Taiwan’s Nationwide Police Company, and an officer he spoke with supplied him with the Fb profile of the governor of Sihanoukville. After confirming their actual location and “firm” by means of the particular assistant of the provincial governor, native police rescued Guan Jie and Yi An and despatched the couple to immigration.

Even on the immigration workplace, Guan Jie and Yi An remained at risk. The couple discovered that even the authorities had been unable to withstand the possibility to make tens of hundreds of {dollars} “promoting” victims to native trafficking rings, they usually had been repeatedly requested in the event that they wished to simply accept “work” alternatives as a substitute of returning house.

Ultimately, the couple paid a U.S. $3,000 “ransom” to the native contacts of a Taiwanese gang and had been allowed to board a flight again to Taiwan after greater than three months of being trapped on the industrial park in Sihanoukville.

“I felt reborn,” Yi An stated of the reduction she skilled after arriving in Taipei. “Luckily, I did not die there. I actually did not suppose I might ever return to Taiwan.” 



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