An armed resistance group in northern Myanmar handed over nearly 60 Chinese nationals accused of online fraud and owning illegal weapons, according to the army’s statement on Monday night.
The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, which occupies Kokang region on the country’s border with China, deported 59 Chinese citizens between Sunday and Monday, the army’s information department said.
One group of 36 people was arrested on Sunday and another 23 were captured on Monday. The army announced it had investigated the Dong Chein and Swan Hauw Chein neighborhoods of Shan state’s Laukkaing city during a crackdown on drug trafficking and illegal weapons.
The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army’s Special Police Department seized mobile phones and weapons from the 36 suspected of online fraud, according to a statement from the Kokang Information Department.
Monday’s suspects were arrested in relation to online money laundering. All those arrested were handed over to Chinese authorities at an internally displaced persons camp called BP-125 on the China-Myanmar border in Laukkaing, according to Kokang Police.
Security forces have been conducting daily inspections in the city to combat drug and weapons smuggling, as well as online scam groups, a Laukkaing resident told RFA on Tuesday.
“Now the forces conduct searches of homes and people every day,” he said. “People who work for a money scamming gang were arrested. The rest of the people were suspected [gang] leaders. They’ve also been arrested.”
In Kokang region, local resistance forces have encouraged residents to report illegal online activities since Feb. 1. They are also registering foreigners residing in the area legally and allowing them to obtain temporary residence permits.
Since the launch of Operation 1027 at the end of October, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, which includes the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, has committed to fighting online fraud in Kokang region.
In late January, China issued arrest warrants for 10 people believed to be gang leaders, including the former chairman of the Kokang regional junta administration group.
From September to December 2023, more than 44,000 Chinese nationals were deported by both the junta and the United Wa State Army.
More than 50,000 foreigners who entered Myanmar illegally from Oct. 5, 2023 to January 2024 have been sent back to their respective countries, regime leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing announced during a security and defense meeting on Jan. 31.
Of those who were returned, 48,120 were Chinese nationals and 1,810 were from other countries, he added.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.