Tuesday, March 3, 1998

Lindsay Kines

p. A1.

Bawdy house linked to ring of people smugglers

Police have raided an alleged bawdy house in Richmond where Malaysian women worked as prostitutes to pay off debts and feed newly acquired heroin habits.

Investigators say the case is linked to an earlier bust at a house in Vancouver, and is also connected to an alleged sex and people-smuggling ring smashed by police agencies in Ontario last September.

Police believe the people involved in the bawdy houses have ties to a major Asian organized crime syndicate known as Dai Huen Jai or the Big Circle Boys.

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women says the black market trade in women is on the rise worldwide with traffickers lured by the potential for large profits and the women by the promise of jobs and money.

In many cases, the alliance says, the women get involved willingly. "But most of them don't know the conditions under which they're going to be working," Jyoti Sanghera, a professor in women's studies at the University of Victoria and an alliance director, said Monday.

p. A2.

Women addicted to heroin

In the Richmond case, the Vancouver city police gang-crime unit, emergency response team, Richmond RCMP and Canadian immigration officials raided an apartment in the 6600-block of Cooney Road in Richmond midnight Friday.

The apartment was occupied by five prostitutes from Maylaysia, two customers, and the alleged proprietors of the bawdy house.

Hong (Connie) Deng, 35 and Cheng Zhi (Alex) Zhao, 27, were arrested and charged with keeping a common bawdy house.

The customers were questioned and released, and five women aged 20 to 30, were taken to a safehouse.

Drennan said the five women had only been in Vancouver for three or four days on visitor's visas.

Police say the "majority of them" had worked previously as prostitutes and come to Canada voluntarily. But once here, they were housed in the apartment and supplied with heroin up to three times a day.

The women, who admitted to police that they had used heroin in the past, eventually became addicted to the drug.

Investigators say their handlers then charged them for the heroin, as well as food and condoms.

In a short period of time, the women owed their handlers significants amounts of money.

Although not confined to the apartment, police say the women became captives of their debts and the regular heroin supply.

The gang-crime unit has since put the women in touch with methadone treatment programs in an effort to wean them from heroin, Drennan said.

The alliance against trafficking in women is also mobilizing to help the five women, Sanghera said.

"Our attempt would be to make sure the women are okay, that they have lawyers to represent them, that we can mobilize some emergency funds for them, and then find out from the women what they want," Sanghera said in a telephone interview from Victoria.

The alliance maintains that simply deporting the women for violating the conditions of their visitors' visas will do little to solve their problems.

"We have seen again and again in our work that deporting them pushes them back into the cycle all over again." Sanghera said.

The Richmond bust followed the raid of an apartment in the 2200-block of Kingsway, Feb. 11. In that case, investigators found one Malaysian woman and two Canadian women of Asian descent working as prostitutes in the alleged bawdy house.

Again, police arrested a man and a woman as the alleged proprietors. Siu Mui (Anna) Ko, 28 and Ping Kwong (Ivan) Mak, 28 were charged with keeping a common bawdy house.

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Created: March 21, 1998
Last modified: March 28, 2000
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