The Judiciary Police (PJ) have busted the largest prostitution ring in Macau since the 1999 handover, nabbing six suspects, including senior hotel executives, for their alleged involvement.
The arrests, which were made on Saturday evening, were announced on Sunday.
According to a special press conference last night, the six suspects comprise a 68-year-old local male senior hotel executive surnamed Ho; a 57-year-old male Hongkonger surnamed Mak who worked as a senior manager in the hotel’s security department; another senior manager from Macau, aged 53 and surnamed Lon; a 42-year-old local man surnamed Pun; a 40-year-old female senior manager surnamed Wang from the mainland; and a 32-year-old female receptionist surnamed Qiao, also from the mainland.
PJ spokesman Choi Iat Peng said at the press conference that police were tipped off in April last year that senior executives in a Zape hotel were allowing sex workers to solicit clients in the hotel’s ground-floor area. He added that police officers took up the case and identified the six suspects after months of investigation.
Choi said officers found that Ho hired Wang in 2013 as a senior manager of the hotel and assigned rooms to the sex workers, for which they had to pay a 150,000 yuan “entrance fee” each to work in the hotel for a year.
Choi added that Pun and Qiao were arrested for their alleged involvement in finding sex workers and coordinating with the other suspects.
The spokesman said PJ officers checked the hotel’s room registration records and discovered that over 2,400 sex workers stayed in the hotel last year. “We estimate that if each one of them paid [the so-called entrance free of] 150,000 yuan, the group should have earned over 400 million patacas,” said Choi, adding that the sex workers had to pay about 10,000 patacas per month to the gang once they started working.
Choi said the sex workers usually charged their clients 1,500 patacas per session, but in some cases they demanded as much as 5,000 patacas. He added that after gathering enough information and evidence, PJ officers went to the hotel on Saturday evening and picked up the six suspects.
They also raided 90 rooms where they found 96 sex workers – 95 mainlanders and one from Vietnam – aged 20 to 27, and seized cash in yuan and Hong Kong dollars equaling about a million patacas. He said 20 of the sex workers entered Macau illegally while 10 others possessed fake IDs.
Choi said the Judiciary Police had asked the mainland authorities for assistance in the investigation, adding the sex workers’ so-called “entrance fees” were deposited in mainland bank accounts and there were other suspects in the mainland still at large.
Choi did not identify the hotel, adding that the case “should be” the biggest of prostitution ring busted by local police since the establishment of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) in December 1999.
Choi said the six suspects will be taken to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) today for further questioning and possible arraignments on charges of belonging to a criminal organisation and pimping, while the 96 sex workers will be taken there as well.
While prostitution is not illegal in Macau, it is illegal to live off the earnings of a prostitute. However, it is also illegal for tourists to engage in gainful employment while visiting the city.