A joint operation by police in Macau and Liaoning and Guangdong provinces has busted a ring of 30 suspects involved in abducting women and forcing them into prostitution, said a statement released by China’s Ministry of Public Security on Friday.
The swoop, which took place on March 11, also saw 41 women rescued from danger, according to the statement quoted by state news agency Xinhua.
More than 20 women being exploited for prostitution were released from captivity in Macau alone and seven suspects were arrested for allegedly inciting prostitution, the Chinese-language TDM channel reported. This is the largest human trafficking case registered in the territory since a law aimed at tackling this phenomenon came into effect on June 2008. That bill now covers forced labour and organ trafficking, as well as increases the maximum jail term for human trafficking to 20 years.
Police in the city of Donggang in Liaoning province received a tip-off on March 5 that more than 20 women had been abducted and taken to the MSAR to engage in prostitution. Under the command of the ministry, police in Donggang and Zhuhai immediately set up a special task force to investigate. Guns, bullets and knives were confiscated from the suspects.
A police chief said the ring was “tightly organized” with a clear distribution of work and a complete network. Suspects lured women and young girls in Dandong prefecture and took them to Macau after promising sightseeing and high-salary jobs. Once they arrived in the city, however, these women were forced into prostitution, the police chief said.
The investigation of the case is continuing.
Last January local association Good Shepherd Sisters warned that “Macau is believed to be a destination for the trafficking of women and girls from the Chinese mainland, Mongolia, Russia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Central Asia, for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation”.
And last October the University of Macau released a report on human trafficking commissioned by the Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee, which confirmed that most of the victims were women from small towns in mainland China who were tricked or coerced into sexual exploitation.
In the latest edition of its Trafficking in Persons Report, released in June 2011, the US Department of State said Macau “continues to lack sufficient judicial resources to investigate and prosecute a significant number of trafficking cases”.