《TAIPEI TIMES》Twenty people questioned over prostitution ring
Instant coffee sachets containing illegal substances such as cannabis and ketamine and other items confiscated by the Taoyuan Police Department Criminal Investigation Corps during a raid in Taoyuan are displayed yesterday. Photo: CNA
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
Twenty people were detained for questioning after the National Immigration Agency and law enforcement raided operations allegedly coercing foreign women into prostitution, police said yesterday.
Those questioned were suspected members of a prostitution ring led by a man surnamed Cheng （程）, 42, and his brother, who allegedly controlled women from the Ukraine, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries, the police said.
After receiving tip-offs, the Taoyuan Prosecutors’ Office launched an investigation and placed the Cheng brothers under surveillance, said prosecutor Yeh Yi-fa （葉益發）, who is in charge of the investigation, adding that the raids took place in Taipei and Taoyuan on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Fourteen women who the Cheng brothers and their associates forced to work as prostitutes were rescued in the operation,” Yeh said, adding that there were 10 Thai nationals, one Ukrainian and one Taiwanese among the women.
Cash and drugs were seized, including 78 small bags of “narcotic coffee” — a mix of narcotics and new synthetic stimulants — 10 bags of ketamine pills and four of cannabis, Yeh said.
The brothers allegedly worked with human smugglers, or “snakeheads,” in other countries to bring the women into Taiwan, he said.
Some entered on tourist visas or with forged documents after being promised good money, while others were forced to work as prostitutes after their documents were confiscated, Yeh said.
The investigation showed that the elder brother’s girlfriend, surnamed Lin （林）, allegedly managed the money, as well as the women’s accommodations and meals, while other people helped manage the women and doubled as drivers to take them to motel rooms in Taoyuan and Taipei.
The Cheng brothers and Lin are likely to be charged with the operation of a prostitution business, possession of narcotics, as well as breaches of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act （人口販運防制法） and related charges, Yeh said.
Ring members advertised on social media and Web sites, investigators said.
The women had to split their earnings with the brothers, while the driver and promoters also got a cut, was sexual exploitation, Yeh said.
Police officials urge other women coerced by the ring to talk with police and assist with the case, Yeh said, adding that their identities would not be revealed.