MANILA (AP) — Philippine police and immigration authorities said they have arrested more than 500 illegally working foreigners, mostly Chinese involved in telecommunications and investment scams, in one of the biggest such mass arrests this year.
The 542 foreigners, who were arrested on Wednesday night in a raid on their company premises in metropolitan Manila, did not have work permits and were involved in defrauding victims mostly in China by blackmailing or tricking them into sending out money, said Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
The Chinese government provided information that led to the arrests of more than 400 Chinese and other workers from Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia, said police Major General Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar.
The suspects were being interrogated in a police gymnasium.
Pictures of the raid provided by the Immigration Bureau showed the foreign workers, who included women, either standing up or seating in front of computer monitors with their hands clasped behind their heads in the company’s office.
Similar recent mass arrests indicate criminal syndicates involved in fraud and illegal online gambling may be trying to move their operations to the Philippines, Bureau of Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said. She said that immigration authorities and other law enforcers “have been working triple hard on ridding the country of these illegal aliens”.
Wednesday’s arrests bring the number of arrested foreign workers to nearly 1,500, causing overcrowding at the Bureau of Immigration’s detention centre, which could only accommodate 140 detainees.