AUTHORITIES in Phnom Penh say they have arrested more than 100 people in multiple raids of businesses accused of hosting “raunchy dancing” and gambling, just days after Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly lambasted high-ranking officials for interfering in efforts to stamp out prostitution and illicit gambling.
Ya Kim Y, a military police commander in Phnom Penh, said authorities had focused in particular on massage parlours, guesthouses and nightclubs suspected of being havens of prostitution and gambling.
“For a few days, we have cooperated with police authorities to crack down on eight nightclubs, massage parlours and karaoke clubs that offered sex, drugs and gambling,” he said.
The various police actions included raids on establishments in the capital’s Chamkarmon, Daun Penh and Tuol Kork districts, as well as on unlicenced gambling houses near schools, Ya Kim Y said.
One sting targeted Club White, in Chamkarmon district, and saw 120 people arrested, including 99 customers.
“We released the customers and the students, but the employees and the owners of those massage clubs and gambling houses we detained in custody so they can be sent to court,” Ya Kim Y said.
The owners of the accused illegal clubs could face charges related to illegal weapons possession, drug trafficking and “raunchy dancing”, he said.
The raids came after a lashing from Hun Sen, who on Thursday accused unnamed senior officials of meddling with attempts to crack down on vice, decrying a “culture of impunity”.
The police raids reportedly reached beyond the capital as well.
Tol Meng, the chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking police bureau in Kampong Cham, said his officers raided three suspected brothels, arresting at least 17 people.
“We will continue to enforce the order of the prime minister to reduce and eliminate human trafficking in the Kingdom,” Tol Meng said.
Authorities in other areas, however, say such vices have not reached their jurisdictions.
“We crack down on crimes everyday,” said Siem Reap police chief Soth Nady.
“Until now, my province has no gambling, karaoke, or pornography nightclubs that offer drugs or raunchy dancing like Phnom Penh.”