Five sex workers from mainland China staying in Hong Kong illegally were among 12 women arrested in a four-day vice operation, police said on Wednesday. The five mainlanders paid smugglers 12,000 yuan (HK$13,400) each to ferry them from Shekou in the coastal area of Guangdong to Hong Kong between May and August, according to Inspector Liu Man-ying. Liu said the women, aged between 31 and 38, worked in unlicensed massage parlours in Tuen Mun, where paid sex was also provided. “Intelligence indicated they accepted bookings via phone calls or messaging services apps such as WhatsApp,” she said. After an undercover operation, police raided six flats in Tuen Mun between Friday last week and Monday, and arrested the group, while also seizing HK$23,000 (US$3,000) in cash. In addition to the five illegal workers, the other seven suspects were five Hong Kong women, and two female visitors from the mainland who hold two-way permits – a travel document for entering the city. Police arrested the women on suspicion of various offences, such as assisting in the management of a vice establishment, assisting in the management of an unlicensed massage parlour, breaching their condition of stay, and violating social-distancing rules. In Hong Kong, all massage parlours have been ordered to close temporarily under measures designed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong student gets probation for throwing brick at police truck during protest Liu said five of the suspects had been charged for related offences, including two of the women in the city illegally and two visitors from the mainland. The other three women in the city illegally were handed over to the Immigration Department for a follow-up investigation, while the remaining four were released on bail. On Tuesday, police revealed that Hong Kong and mainland Chinese authorities had broken up a cross-border syndicate that used speedboats to smuggle workers from Zhuhai, and arranged jobs for them in the city, arresting 104 people in a month-long joint operation. Police said 17 speedboats and three cars worth HK$9 million in total were seized in the operation in Hong Kong and Zhuhai.