Nguyen Van Hong (C), the alleged major pimp of the ring, at a police station. Photo credit: VOV
Ho Chi Minh City police have detained dozens of people, including pimps and johns, for allegedly running a prostitution ring targeting mostly foreigners in the city.
The police raid into a hotel on Phan Xich Long Street in Phu Nhuan District and caught three couples in the act at around 8:35 p.m. Thursday.
As many as 18 people involved were questioned.
The police then arrested Nguyen Van Hong, a major pimp, and others people for investigations.
Hong told police he used to work as a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver in District 1. In 2007, he connived with the owners of brothels in districts 1 and 4 and brokered for the prostitutes who served mostly foreigners for US$100 each time.
He printed cards advertising massage and karaoke services and tours and distributed them to taxi drivers and hotel receptionists in districts 1, 3, 4, 5 and Phu Nhuan. In fact, it was those services that provided prostitutes to foreigners.
The prostitutes were mostly sent to hotels on Le Thanh Ton, Hai Ba Trung and Ngo Van Nam streets in District 1 and Phan Xich Long in Phu Nhuan District.
Of the money earned from prostitution, Hong raked in half of the sum, while the owner of a brothel got a 25 percent cut each time.
The prostitution ring operates from 6 p.m. to the following morning everyday.
Prostitution is illegal in Vietnam. r
According to latest figures compiled by the social affairs ministry, the number of sex workers in Vietnam -- criminals according to the government -- increased in 2013 and prostitution became harder to control.
A report by the ministry said the number grew to nearly 33,000 in 2013, up more than 9 percent from the previous year.
A report by newswire AFP in September 2014 quoted researchers as estimating that there are around 200,000 sex workers in Vietnam, full-time or occasional, of whom up to 40 percent are believed to be HIV-positive.
The civil society has been pressuring the government to legalize prostitution so that the industry could be regulated, triggering fierce debate from both sides of the camp.