Sex worker exploitation network exposed

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers have detained two Chinese nationals in Perth as part of an ongoing investigation into the exploitation of foreign citizens in the sex industry.

Warrants executed on a residential premises in the West Australian suburb of Maylands yesterday found a ‘phone hub’ of more than 100 mobile phones. Initial analysis has indicated that the unit was being used as a call centre for the sex industry.

One of the individuals detained, a 44 year old woman, who is in Australia unlawfully, has allegedly been linked to a network of women across the country and is suspected of being a controlling agent within this industry on a national scale. She has also allegedly been linked to financial profiles that are consistent with money laundering.

Investigations into other persons linked to her alleged sex network are ongoing.

The other main target of the activity was a 28 year old man who is in Australia on a visa that prohibits work, yet has allegedly been linked to the movement offshore of more than $250,000 in the last two years.

As a result of the activity, both individuals were detained and taken to immigration detention facilities pending their removal from Australia.

Another man found at the unit, believed to be a 44 year old Chinese national, was also detained due to discrepancies with his identification and visa status.

A fourth person located, a 21 year old Student Visa holder also from China, identified as the niece of the 44 year-old woman, will have her visa status reviewed.

ABF Field Operations Commander James Copeman said yesterday’s search warrant was targeting those involved in the exploitation of foreign nationals within the sex industry.

“The exploitation of any illegal workers is unacceptable, but it is particularly disturbing when it comes to the sex industry,” Commander Copeman said.

“First and foremost this is about protecting people. The welfare of victims is our primary concern when conducting these operations.

“The individuals we are targeting in this operation are not those that are being exploited, but the non-citizens that are facilitating illegal work. It’s critically important that individuals, regardless of visa status, come forward and provide the ABF with information as we remain committed to identifying and taking action against those involved in these practices.”

Visa holders who do not comply with their visa conditions due to workplace exploitation, will generally not have their visa cancelled, be detained or removed if they come forward and assist with inquiries.

Anyone who is aware of an individual, business or employer who might be facilitating visa fraud or illegal work is urged to contact Border Watch at Information can be provided anonymously.

/Public Release. View in full here.