The Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in northern Laos is a haven for criminal activities including prostitution, scamming and drug trafficking, but Lao authorities are essentially powerless to stop it, workers in the zone and police told Radio Free Asia.
The zone is a gambling and tourism hub catering to Chinese citizens situated in Bokeo province along the Mekong River where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet. It has been described as a de-facto Chinese colony.
Due to the special nature of the zone, Lao authorities have limited access to it, and they require permission from officials at the Chinese-run Kings Romans Casino, the zone’s crown jewel, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Dok Ngiew Kham Group. The group holds an 80 percent interest in the 3,000 hectare (11.6 square mile) zone, while the Lao government has a 20 percent stake in it.