MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday said it has apprehended more than 300 foreign nationals in a massive raid of an online gaming company on Thursday night.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement the operation, jointly conducted by the bureau and the Quezon City Police District yielded the arrest of a total of 342 foreigners working without proper permits and visas at a building in Barangay Bago Bantay.
The illegal aliens, all Chinese nationals, were reportedly working for a licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) that was not yet allowed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to operate.
“We sought the assistance of PAGCOR in confirming their permit, and we found out that the company was duly licensed, but was not yet allowed to operate,” BI Intelligence Division chief Fortunato Manahan, Jr. said.
Thousands of mobile phones that suspects were allegedly using for online and phone scamming were also recovered from the raided offices.
Manahan also said the company used several names, prompting suspicion that it may be a front for other unscrupulous activities.
“We had reason to suspect that the company is a front for illegal cyber activities and investment scams,” he said.
“We coordinated this operation with the Chinese government, which confirmed the company’s involvement in illegal activities, victimizing mostly their compatriots in China,” he added.
The BI said the arrested Chinese nationals were tagged as fugitives after the Chinese government canceled their passports.
The Chinese government has likewise reportedly canceled the passports of those involved, making them undocumented aliens and tagging them as fugitives.
The suspects are currently detained in a temporary holding facility in Camp Caringal, Quezon City pending their deportation.