The Philippines deported 180 Chinese nationals on Thursday after they were detained in a raid on a suspected sex-trafficking and online scam operation in the capital Manila, officials said.
Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino nationals were among the nearly 600 people found inside a compound during the operation in October.
Sex toys, a massage parlour, karaoke rooms and a restaurant were found in the building operated by a business that authorities said was licenced as an internet gaming company.
Several women were “rescued” during the raid, police said.
The Chinese nationals deported did not have work permits and had been “engaging in online scams”, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Undersecretary Gilberto Cruz told AFP.
Cruz said more foreigners detained in the raid would be deported in the coming weeks.
International concern has been growing over internet scams in the Asia-Pacific region, often staffed by trafficking victims tricked or coerced into promoting bogus crypto investments.
Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros previously warned that “scam call centres” were operating in the Philippines and employing foreigners trafficked into the country.
In its 2023 human trafficking report, the US State Department said the Philippines “did not vigorously investigate or prosecute labour trafficking crimes that occurred within” the country.
“Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns,” it said.