The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested six (6) alleged kidnappers and loan shark gang members who target casino players, Tuesday, Septemeber 10.
The police presented the arrested suspects in a press conference on Monday at Camp Crame. The suspects include a retired navy officer Francis Reyes and seafarer Melvin Culala.
According to reports, Reyes and Culala finance the group.
Authorities also caught the group’s spotters namely Nathaniel Aragon, Christopher Bagro, Rico Castillo, and Reynaldo Parolina.
PNP Luzon Anti-Kidnapping chief Police Col. Villaflor Bannawagan explained the group’s modus operandi. The loan shark gang would lend money to their target in exchange for collateral and high interest.
If the target casino player failed to repay, the group will kidnap him, threaten him, and will ask for ransom.
The group’s scheme was similar to the Chinese loan shark gangs who target Chinese nationals who visit the country to play in the casinos.
The six arrested suspects will face kidnapping charges.
PNP vs. Chinese loan shark gangs
PNP has doubled its efforts to eradicate casino-related kidnappings brought by Chinese loan shark syndicates.
According to the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG), they have recorded 52 casino-related Chinese nationals kidnapping cases since 2017. Primary suspects were their fellow Chinese.
PNP AKG said that the growing Philippine Online Gambling Operations in the country provided more opportunities for loan sharks to thrive in the Philippines.
There are a total of 56 POGOs licensed to operate, while 30 are operating illegally.