Macau (MNA) – The Judiciary Police (PJ) have uncovered a local prostitution ring said to have generated more than HK$300 million (US$38.2 million) in profits in the last two years.
After reports suggested the existence of illegal activities in several locations in the city, raids in 13 locations, including a sauna in Taipa, led to the detention of 13 members of the criminal gang.
Nine culprits were identified as being Macau residents, with two other from Mainland China and two from Vietnam.
During the operations, some 151 people employed by the organisation, including 58 sex workers and 58 staff members, were taken to the police station in order to assist with the investigation.
The women employed as sex workers were said to come from Mainland China, South-East Asia and Eastern Europe.
Some of the women from Vietnam were in Macau hired under working permits (aka blue cards) as cooks, cleaners and domestic helpers, which the gang had applied for.
The investigation found that the group had operated since 2014, having generated around HK$313 million in profits from 2017 until the time of the raids, with about 95,000 transactions recorded during the period.
Each transaction ranged from HK$2,588 to HK$4,488 dollars with each sex worker receiving less than HK$1,000 ‘depending on the nationality of the woman’ concerned and the ‘rating of the group’s key personnel,’ the PJ indicated.
Almost HK$6 million in cash and more than 4,500 condoms were apprehended.
The sauna in Taipa employed watchmen which would inform the sex workers of possible inspections by pressing an alarm button, with the women then hiding in secret chambers located in the facilities.
The gang also arranged for regular checkups for the women at a designated clinic, although the latter had to pay for the consultation fees, with the organisation receiving commissions from the clinic proper. A doctor and a nurse were taken to the police station to assist with the investigation.
The group also operated another sauna site in downtown Macau but had closed it in February this year due to ‘operational problems’, still according to the police report.
The PJ suspects that other criminal activities were also being conducted by the group, with further investigations to follow.
The suspects were accused of sexual exploitation and criminal association, and sent to the Public Prosecutions Office.
Sexual exploitation can lead to a prison sentence between one to three years, while association with organised crime can lead to three to 12 years, or five to 12 years for recognised leaders.