45 foreigners questioned on abduction of casino high-rollers

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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II ARNOLD ALMACEN/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Agents of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) rescued on Tuesday night a Singaporean woman seized by suspected members of a Chinese kidnap-for-ransom syndicate preying on foreigners known to be high-rollers in ritzy casinos in Metro Manila.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said 45 foreigners were arrested by BI personnel in two separate joint operations with the Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) of the Philippine National Police in Pasay City.

“[They are] believed to be responsible for the series of kidnappings perpetrated against foreign nationals who are high-roller casino players in recent months,” Aguirre said in a statement.

“All the 45 foreign nationals were brought to the PNP-AKG headquarters in Camp Crame. [They] are still undergoing investigation and inquest,” he said.

The BI and AKG agents swooped down on Room 301 of Bayview International Towers in Pasay around 8 p.m. on Tuesday and rescued Singaporean Wu Yan, who was seized by four people, including a woman, from nearby Solaire Resorts and Casino.

Aguirre said Yan was assaulted by her abductors, who threatened to kill her if she would not pay $180,000, or about P9 million, for her release.

Arrested in the first operation were 26 foreigners, including Malaysians Ng Yu Meng and Goh Kok Keong and Chinese Zhang Fuxing, the alleged leader of the group.

“The victim was able to positively identify [the] three among the 26 arrested foreign nationals [as] her kidnappers,” Aguirre said.

In a subsequent operation, the justice secretary said the police and immigration personnel rounded up 19 other foreigners, also suspected members of the syndicate.

He said those arrested failed to show legal immigration documents and “refused to divulge their identities” after they were taken into custody.

Aguirre said two officials of China’s Ministry of Public Security were assisting the BI and the PNP in their investigation. Marlon Ramos

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