Peruvian police rescue Malaysians, Taiwanese held by gang

This handout picture released on Oct 9, 2023, by the Peruvian Ministry of Interior shows some of the 44 Asian migrants rescued by police during a raid between Oct 7 and 8 in Lima. Peruvian police rescued 44 Asian migrants held captive by the Taiwanese criminal organisation Red Dragon, who were used to extort money from businessmen abroad via telephone calls from Lima, the institution reported on Monday. — Handout/Peruvian Ministry of Interior/AFP

LIMA: Police in Peru have rescued 44 people from Asia who were captured by a Taiwanese criminal organisation that used them in an extortion scheme in the South American country, officials in Lima said on Oct 9.

The foreigners were forced to make calls to companies in Malaysia and Taiwan to demand money while posing as police or justice officials, General Carlos Malaver, the head of the police’s people smuggling investigation unit told AFP.

Of the people rescued in an operation carried out in a Lima suburb over the weekend, 43 were from Malaysia and one from Taiwan, he said. They worked only at night and lived in cramped conditions, given only one meal a day.

Six Taiwanese and two Peruvians were arrested.

The Malaysian foreign ministry confirmed in a statement late Oct 9 that 43 citizens had been rescued, saying its embassy staff in Lima had visited them all and “found them to be in good condition”.

“All the victims have also undergone an investigation process and will be repatriated to Malaysia in the near future,” the ministry said.

The captives had entered Peru in September, lured via social networks with promises of work in casinos in the capital. They told investigators they were taken to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and then to Peru.

Once there, members of a Taiwanese crime group known as Red Dragon took away their passports and cut them off from communication with relatives, police said.

A police operation was mounted after two women managed to escape and alert the authorities.

Investigators seized more than US$10,000 (RM47,350), dozens of cellphones and bank cards from the house where the foreigners were held. – AFP

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