Investigators from the Ministry of Public Security are questioning a Malaysian man and a Vietnamese woman suspected of using lucrative job offers to trick local women into prostitution in Malaysia.
Police had rescued nine victims and brought them home before making the arrest earlier this month.
Ngu Weng Hie was taken in after he arrived at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City from Malaysia, while Nguyen Thi Le Hoa was arrested in the southern province of Kien Giang.
An officer said they started looking into the case when families of some victims filed reports late last year.
Initial investigation found that Hoa left Vietnam in 2012 and worked for Ngu’s restaurant in Malaysia.
She returned home one year later due to health reasons, after striking a deal with Ngu to provide Vietnamese women for sex work, which is illegal in both Malaysia and Vietnam.
He paid her nearly VND6 million (US$276) for each woman, who had to be under 30 years old.
Nguyen Thi Le Hoa at a local police station. File photo
She promised Vietnamese women to help them find jobs as waitresses and helpers for up to US$900 a month, almost ten times the average income in Vietnam's rural areas.
Two young women who could not find stable jobs approached Hoa in August 2013.
One of the women then introduced three of her friends to Hoa. She found a few more on her own.
She and Ngu brought the women to Malaysia in September 2013.
Ngu forced them into sex work at a karaoke parlor. They would be beaten and starved if they refused to work.
He and his friend Tap Sim Boon, the parlor owner, kept half of the earnings, around $140 per client.
They said the women owed them the visa fees and airfares and their families had to transfer VND30-40 million ($1,380-1,840) for them to come home.
Hoa provided Ngu three more women in February 2014.
A senior criminal officer at the ministry said many Vietnamese women have left their hometown with dreams of a better life overseas.
But thousands have been forced into sex work.
“Some women who have been rescued still want to go back, even when they know for sure they will be forced into sex work again,” the officer said.