A court in Phnom Penh on Wednesday sent six Vietnamese to seven and ten years in jail for providing sex workers, including minors, at local massage parlors.
The Cambodia Daily reported that a seventh Vietnamese was sentenced in absentia and remains at large.
Among the six sent to prison, Nguyen Yandong, 32, Nguyen Dinga, 26, and Le Chantha, 31, were sentenced to 10 years while Heng Chhay, 26, Yoeun Vikhen, 48, and the only woman Nguyen Thi Yong, 39, received seven years.
Cambodia police arrested them in October last year during raids into the massage parlors on Sothearos Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district and Street 63 in Daun Penh district.
The seventh, who goes by Cambodian name Sok Meng, was the lessor of both properties and considered the ringleader.
Kor Vandy, presiding judge of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said they were for "procuring prostitution of minors with aggravating circumstances.”
The maximum penalty for the crime in Cambodia is 15 years imprisonment.
Judge Vandy issued a warrant for Meng during the trial.
The International Justice Mission (IJM), a child protection NGO which joined in the investigation that led to the trial, said in a press release Wednesday that the brothels were “run by a well-known Vietnamese trafficking and exploitation network. They openly prostituted Vietnamese young adult women and borderline minors.”
Six of the 20 female sex workers were found to be under 18, IJM said.
Pol Phiethey, director of the anti-trafficking department at Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, said that they are looking into a larger criminal ring that the Vietnamese were only part of.
Maj. Gen. Phiethey said that other leads besides Meng are being investigated.
“There is Mr. Sok Meng, but we are still trying to find out who is behind him,” he said.
“The [real] ringleader has many names and he continues to change [names] all the time. It is very easy to change your name in Cambodia, so it is very hard to find him.”