Police in Ho Chi Minh City Friday arrested a couple for allegedly running a sex trafficking ring which sent seven Vietnamese women to Malaysia.
Vo Thi Thanh Thuy, 29, was caught receiving money from the families of two of her victims in exchange for their freedom on Monday, police said. Her boyfriend, 29-year-old Ngo Trong Hieu, present at the time, was also arrested.
According to police, they set up a sting operation following tip-offs from the families of two victims whose identities were not revealed, but have now returned to Vietnam.
Initial reports claim that when working as a masseuse at the Star Robin Spa Hotel in Malaysia between March and September last year, Thuy entered into an agreement with the hotel's owner to provide Vietnamese women to be sex workers there.
After coming back to Vietnam, Thuy, together with Hieu, sought for women who were looking for a job and convinced them to travel to Malaysia. Police said since Thuy was illiterate, Hieu facilitated the transactions and processed the paperwork.
A report on local news website Vietnamnet Friday said Thuy told the two freed victims that a Malaysian acquaintance of hers was recruiting supermarket employees and that those hired would earn a monthly salary of no less than US$1,000.
After the women accepted the offer, she spent a total of nearly VND40 million ($1,900) buying clothes and taking care of all procedures required for them to fly to Malaysia, the news site said. Their families also received VND6 million ($285) each from Thuy.
However, when they arrived in Malaysia, the women were sent to the hotel to work as prostitutes.
According to Vietnamnet, the women served more than ten customers per day for 200 Ringit ($63.5), but only received 30 percent, while the remainder went to Thuy and hotel managers. It said Thuy asked the women to text her after each encounter to ensure she was not being cheated by the managers.
The victims later asked Thuy to let them go home, but she said they would only be released after their families paid her VND48 million ($2,200) each, police said.
Thuy even threatened to kill the trafficked women to force their families to pay her, according to police.
The case is being investigated further, while five other victims remain in Malaysia.