Asian prostitution gang forced 19 women to work as sex slaves

The gang operated across the South East

Hong Chin, Li Wei Gao and Tingli Lu were all found guilty

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three people have been found guilty following a long-running investigation into the trafficking of vulnerable women for prostitution.

A total of 19 victims, all from South East Asia, were identified as being exploited at hotels across the South East between 2013 and 2015.

Police said the women were placed in pre-booked hotel rooms and told what services they were offering, without being given any choice in the matter - netting the gang thousands of pounds.

Sussex Police first became aware of the illicit operation in February 2015 after one of the women reported being debt bonded, which led to extensive enquiries being carried out.

Four people were arrested in connection with the investigation on 10 June 2015 and later charged. There were Hong Chin, a 45-year-old Malysian man who worked at a takeaway restaurant in Ashtead; Li Wei Gao, a 44-year-old unemployed Chinese woman living in Esher; Tingli Lu, a 47-year-old Chinese beautician living in Southsea; and Wing Yeun, a 41-year-old taxi driver originally from Hong Kong, based in Crystal Palace.

The gang were charged with various counts of conspiring to control prostitution and conspiring to traffic people for sexual exploitation. Hong, Li and Tingli were all found guilty, although Wing was cleared of all charges.

Asian prostitution gang forced 19 women to work as sex slaves

Detective inspector Andy Richardson said: "This has been a complex and lengthy investigation where vulnerable women were trafficked into the UK for the purposes of prostitution.

"Often the women were moved to different towns around the South East where hotel rooms were booked for them, and then they were told who they would be seeing and what services they had to offer. They had no say in any of this.

"Each of the defendants vehemently denied the offences, however through exploring their movements, their finances and their lifestyle arrangements we were able to provide key evidence to the prosecution.

"We were able to show the hundreds of hotel and adult website bookings the defendants made, and recovered numerous mobile telephones, SIM cards and hotel room keys as well as other key evidence in searches.

"This was effectively a well organised and structured business which made the defendants thousands of pounds, as was seen from their bank accounts.

"Over the course of the investigation officers spoke to a number of women with their safety and welfare at the forefront of our minds.

"Each of the women we spoke to were offered support and protection (through the National Referral Mechanism). Our case was also supported by the strength of the account given by one of the victims, who bravely gave evidence at the trial and I am grateful for her cooperation."