Sihanoukville Casino Shooting, Two Dead, One Injured, Three Suspects Held Hours Later

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Cambodia continues to fuel the narrative of its Chinese transnational crime problem with local news reporting a shooting inside a casino complex where two Chinese nationals were murdered and one was injured, and the three suspects are all Chinese as well.

Casino Shooting Sees Two Dead, Suspects Quickly Identified

Preah Sihanouk, the coastal Cambodian city also known as Sihanoukville, appeared in local news after a shooting broke out in Tong Fang Palirin Casino in Group 13, Village 1, Sangkat 2, as the Khmer Times reported. Two Chinese nationals were found dead and one was severely wounded on the night of July 30, around 10 pm. The Khmer Times reports that the shooting happened in the hotel part of the complex and the shooters have fled the scene.

Local police were reportedly on the premise almost immediately and thanks to CCTV captures it took mere hours for the suspects to be captured. According to a second report by the Khmer Times, Colonel Tey Visal – the police chief of the local police department – has identified the shooters as Du Chong, 34, and Zheng Ying Fei, 37. Alongside them, there was a female suspect that has been identified as Xiong Zheng, 31.

Five hours after the shooting, around 4 am on July 31, the three Chinese nationals were captured, facing interrogations and possibly murder charges, according to how the interrogation process goes. However, if there is clear video footage of the scenario described by local police, which has reportedly gone into details about how many rounds were shot during an argument between the individuals involved.

Casino- and gambling-related crime has been on the rise lately, in tandem with general crime, throughout Cambodia. Gaming has a peculiar status in Cambodia, with casinos being open throughout the country, but locals being forbidden of playing in them.

This, of course, opens up a big avenue for introducing high levels of corruption in the ranks of authorities preserving law and order, which in its turn can easily allow for escalation circumstances to become a permanent part of its daily business, thus allowing for a general sense of lawlessness to settle in. Cambodia is notorious for being perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, placing 157th out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021 and it has consistently been in the top (or bottom, depending on how you look at it) 20 for the last few years.

This has led to the emergence of many crime syndicates and organized groups, alluring citizens from neighboring countries either with scams or recruitment calls. Chinese citizens have reportedly been very prone to entering Cambodia under those types of pretenses and Chinese transnational crime has been a very hot topic in Sihanoukville, especially with Chinese hotels and casinos proliferating since 2017.

However, other neighboring nationals have also been suffering from the situation in Cambodia. Just a few months ago, at the beginning of March, 44 Indonesian citizens were freed after being victims of human trafficking, falling for a job offer scam. A few months before that, in November 2021, 60 casino workers from Thailand were freed, after also becoming victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. Earlier in the same month, several US government bodies had issued official warnings to US operators about being cautious or entirely avoiding expansion into Cambodia over concerns surrounding the raising crime rates in the country.

Foreign-backed casinos have had varying degrees of success in the country and it seems every success story comes on the back of an already worrisome trend of increasing crime levels, keeping the government busy.

Author: Ian Douglas