Order that led to arrest of Chinese nationals in online gambling raid ‘invalid’

Posted on January 14, 2017

THE counsel of 39 Chinese nationals nabbed in Fontana Resort and Casino in November last year claimed that the order that led to her clients’ apprehension is “invalid.”

Under the law, the mission order “should specifically state persons and personal circumstances,” defense lawyer Irene Bianca B. Distura told reporters after the preliminary investigation. “In the mission order, the subject is only foreigners who are allegedly violating immigration laws, so on its face, it is invalid,”

In the 14-page counter-affidavit filed the respondents, they said that the subject on the mission order “is an overly broad description that, to the point of absurdity, cover all illegal aliens anywhere in the country.”

“The mission order even pointed out to state the immigration status, personal peculiarities, place of residence of other circumstances by which the subjects or aliens can be identified,” the counter-affidavit read.

“The raiding team [had] no right to be [in] that place on Nov. 24, 2016,” Ms. Distura said.

During the Nov. 24 raid at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino, operated gaming tycoon Yin Lok “Jack” Lam, 1,310 Chinese nationals were arrested in connection with a crackdown on online gambling. Authorities also said the Chinese were also illegal aliens.

All items seized from the Villa 736, where the Chinese nationals were arrested, “are inadmissible in evidence for being the proverbial ‘fruit of a poisonous tree,’” the respondents said.

When the raid was underway, most of them were just “hanging round” in the villa and not committing crime, and “the raiding team forced some of us to sit in front of computers when they took pictures to be used as evidence against us...”

Another defense lawyer Jonathan Sarte asked why the complainant -- the DoJ Cybercrime office -- filed criminal charges against the 39 Chinese workers as the accused are also facing a separate deportation charges before the Bureau of Immigration, an office also attached to the Justice department.

“I asked the complainants why they filed a criminal case when there is already a deportation charge before the Bureau of Immigration. These are two inconsistent actions,” said Mr. Sarte, adding that the respondents “do not have any knowledge on the lack of a [gambling] permit” of the online casino.

“They are not in the position to know that because they were just employees of the company,” said Mr. Sarte.

He also said that the Chinese were also a victim of illegal recruitment in their country as they were promised of a different job but “when they arrived they didn’t know that it will [involve] illegal gambling.”

The case has already been submitted for resolution. -- Ray F. Javil