Operating across borders, the traffickers and online gambling groups pay local authority figures for protection or, at the very least, to look the other way, Nikkei has been told. In one case, local police officers accompanied bosses and bodyguards from an online gambling group as they tried to recapture trafficked workers who had escaped.

Some cases have received public attention. A Cambodian court in April charged Soum Pov, a former two-star military general, and six accomplices after they were caught trying to smuggle 28 Chinese nationals across the Cambodia-Vietnam border using military-plated vehicles, according to a local news report.

Tep Phalla, a spokesman for the court, said Pov remained in custody while the case was under investigation. "[The case] is in the hands of the investigating judge; they are working on it," he said.


The person behind "pig fattening" scam text messages online might be working under slave-like conditions.