Wed, Nov 20, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Authorities break up alleged forced prostitution ring

Staff writer, with CNA

The Criminal Investigation Bureau on Monday said that it has broken up an alleged sex trafficking organization forcing Vietnamese women into prostitution, arresting 18 suspects and rescuing 11 victims in raids across northern Taiwan.

An investigation team was formed under the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office after the bureau received a tip that a sex trafficking ring was using rented suites in Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan, Ho Ming-hsien (何明賢), a deputy chief of an investigations division at the bureau, told a news conference.

The team found that the organization was headed by a 53-year-old Taiwanese man surnamed Chen (陳), whose sons and daughter, as well as a daughter-in-law, were members of the ring, Ho said.

A 34-year-old Vietnamese woman, surnamed Nguyen, married to a Taiwanese was allegedly in charge of luring compatriots from low-income families to travel to Taiwan to work in massage parlors, Ho said, adding that after their arrival, they were forced into prostitution.

The ring prevented the women from running away by seizing their passports and their earnings, threatening them with death and beating them up if they tried to escape, he said.

The office on Thursday last week launched a large-scale operation targeting various locations in northern Taiwan where the alleged sex trafficking was being conducted, he added.

A total of 18 people were detained during the raids, including Chen and four members of his family, Nguyen and a Taiwanese man surnamed Yang (楊) who worked as an accountant, Ho said, adding that they were later charged with assault, issuing threats, offenses against personal liberty and contraventions of the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪條例).

Police also rescued 11 women forced into prostitution and seized computers, firearms, mobile phones and ledgers, he said.

The ring, which began operations in January last year, generated more than NT$20 million (US$655,544) from March this year to last month, he added.

The Chen family, Nguyen and Yang have been detained incommunicado, while the remaining suspects were released on bail pending further investigation, Ho said.

Separately on Monday, the bureau said that 23 Taiwanese allegedly involved in cross-border telecom fraud in Japan, India and Southeast Asia have been arrested and that a request for the main suspects to be detained has been approved.

The ring, led by a man surnamed Hu (胡), allegedly set up a front company in Taoyuan in 2017 and recruited gangsters with the promise of high returns, the bureau said.

The ring’s members then set up call centers in India, Malaysia, Japan and Cambodia, the bureau said.

In July, Hu and other members of the organization were arrested at a call center in a luxury residence in Malaysia as part of a joint operation by Malaysian and Taiwanese police, it said.

After appearing in court in Malaysia, Hu was repatriated on Nov. 6, it added.

Hu was one of six suspects returned to Taiwan for questioning by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office, the bureau said, adding that Hu was detained, while the other five were released on bail.

Nine other suspects in Taiwan allegedly responsible for general affairs, bill collection and call operations were also arrested, with core members of the ring detained, while the others were released on bail of NT$100,000 to NT$200,000, it said.

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