Property agent held in raids on brothels

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 April, 2008, 12:00am

A property agent who allegedly helped a vice syndicate find flats to be used as brothels or as accommodation for mainland prostitutes was among 72 people arrested in an anti-vice operation in Kowloon West yesterday.

Police said it was the first time they had found a property agent involved in vice activities.

Officers said the agent, aged 39, used his knowledge of the property market to help the syndicate find flats in Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok, and to help keep the prostitutes on the move from one flat to another.

'The tactic of moving around was to evade police detection and arrest,' said Superintendent Eddie Ma Chi-kin, of the Kowloon West regional crime unit.

He said the flats were used as brothels or accommodation for mainland prostitutes, including illegal immigrants and holders of two-way permits.

The suspected mastermind of the syndicate, a 51-year-old local woman, was arrested when officers raided her home in the New Territories yesterday. Police believed the syndicate had been operating for six months.

Detectives last night were investigating how many flats were used and how many prostitutes were controlled by the syndicate.

The syndicate, one of several triad-controlled operations targeted by police, arranged for mainland women to come into Hong Kong and gave them accommodation.

'The women would then work in brothels, unlicensed massage parlours and love hotels,' Chief Inspector Lee Wai-man said.

The two-day operation ended last night and involved 160 police and immigration officers, who raided about 50 locations.

Besides the property agent and his mastermind, police also arrested 14 men and 56 women between the ages of 17 and 60. Of the women arrested, 22 were illegal immigrants from the mainland.

All 72 suspects were being detained by police for questioning and no one had been charged as of last night.