o Thi My Xuan, 30, a former beauty queen and model, at a Ho Chi Minh City court Thursday. She and five others involved in a high-priced prostitution ring got jail terms or suspended sentences. Photo by Doc Lap
A Ho Chi Minh City court Thursday sentenced six people, including a former beauty queen, for running a prostitution racket that involved models, singers, and actresses and charged wealthy clients up to US$7,000 for sex.
Vo Thi My Xuan, 30, winner of a Mekong Delta beauty contest in 2009 and a freelance model, got two and a half years for prostitution and procuring clients twice for two other sex workers.
Tran Quang Mai, 41, and Le Quang Tuan Anh, 28, both make-up artists, got five and three years respectively.
Mai, the ring leader, had earned nearly $6,650 after procuring men on seven occasions for six women sex workers.
Anh, also known as Kevin, got nearly $650 for pimping on three occasions.
Nguyen Huu Dat, 44, driver for a communication firm, was given one year and 24 days, the time he had already spent in custody, and released.
Luong Quoc Huy, 26, a pimp, and Tran Thi Hoa, 27, aka Thien Kim, a model, prostitute, and pimp, got suspended sentences of one and two years.
They will then be on further probation for a period of two and four years respectively, when they have to demonstrate good behavior under the guidance of family, local administration, or an appointed agency.
Dat, Huy and Hoa got $100, $300, and $1,850 for procuring clients.
The ring charged customers $2,500 to 7,000 for sex. To put this in perspective, Vietnam's per capita income was $1,555 last year.
The defendants admitted their guilt, but claimed their actions had not been well thought out or deliberate, Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reported.
Xuan said two models, Le Thi Yen Duy and Nguyen Thi Minh Nhai, had often asked her to find rich lovers for them. She had merely obliged them and not lured them into prostitution, the court heard.
She expressed remorse for her actions that had affected her mother's prestige as a teacher and caused the family to be ostracized, Lao Dong reported.
"To me, this is the biggest punishment," she told the court.
Most of the defendants said they had been involved in the racket to help their family.
Mai said she needed money to treat her child who suffers from a congenital heart disease, claiming her situation had become desperate after her husband died. She contacted the customers while Anh and Dat contacted the sex workers.
Hoa, who admitted to finding a client named Hai for Xuan for $2,500 and getting paid $1,000 for it, said she had done it to support herself, her old parents, and a baby born last November. The court accepted her plea and showed leniency.
Eight others, including prostitutes and customers, were fined by the police but escaped criminal charges.
On June 2, 2012, police raided two hotels in HCMC's District 1 and caught four men having sex with prostitutes. Subsequent investigations led to the arrest of the six defendants.
Since 2010 Mai has been hiring models, beauty queens ,and singers for prostitution and gradually got the other defendants involved in it.
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