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Seamy border casino town closed down

MORE than 5,000 Chinese citizens left Maijayang yesterday after the Chinese and Myanmar governments cracked down on casinos in the border city.
Several Chinese teenagers have been abducted recently in Maijayang.

To stop gambling Myanmar has shut down the casinos in Maijayang and China has cut off power, water, telecommunications and even paths to the town which sits on the Sino-Burma border, Beijing News reported.

Maijayang authorities have declared gambling illegal and local police raided dozens of casinos on January 28.

Cao Chuan, a Chinese employee at a local casino, told the newspaper he lost his job because of the raids.

The frontier inspection authority from the neighboring Yunnan Province of China said Myanmar closed casinos in Maijayang after Chinese media reported teenagers from Yuncheng City, Shanxi Province, had been kidnapped in the city by casino operators or loan sharks and held for ransom.

China switched off some of its transmission towers from January 28 in Yunnan's Dehong Prefecture, which borders Maijayang. Authorities in Dehong said they would introduce measures to block finance, power and telecommunication services to casinos in Myanmar.

Chinese frontier troops are patroling more frequently than before and have closed 11 passages to Maijayang to ban illegal crossings, the report said.

At least 50 youngsters from Shanxi in northern China have been kidnapped and reportedly tortured by gangs in Myanmar since August to extort ransoms.

All of them returned home at the end of last month after their parents had paid ransoms or they were rescued by the police.

Most of those kidnapped were between 16 and 22 years old, police said.

The kidnappers tricked their victims into going to Myanmar for work. After arriving there the teens were imprisoned and the kidnappers phoned their families demanding ransoms.

Most of the boys were freed after their families paid ransoms that ranged between 20,000 and 100,000 yuan.

They were told by the kidnappers in Myanmar to gamble so they could run up debts that could be used to extort money from their worried parents.

Families later received phone calls from Myanmar demanding ransoms for their children who were heard crying and saying they had been tortured.

The callers told the parents to pay the ransom into designated bank accounts otherwise their boys would be skinned or the parents would be sent their fingers.

One victim told his mother on October 8 that he would be beaten to death if she could not transfer money that day.


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