Police have raided Hong Kong’s largest prostitution listing website, go141.com, and arrested 12 men, one of whom allegedly masterminded the operation from his prison cell.
In an operation code-named Lakemirror, officers from the organised crime and triad bureau launched raids on 18 locations across the city on Monday, including residential flats, businesses and two suspected website support centres.
An investigation into the website was first launched last year over its alleged triad links, police revealed at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
Twelve local men, aged 25 to 59, were arrested for allegedly living on the prostitution earnings of others, money laundering and loan-sharking. Among them was a 55-year-old Chan Pau-chi, who was already serving time for running a previous version of the website known as sex141.com.
Investigators said they believed Chan was also the man behind go141.com, which featured advertisements for sexual services in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other locations.
Sex141.com was the biggest service provider of its kind when it was shut down in 2013.
In 2013, more than 110 people, including Chan, his wife, other core operators and sex workers, were arrested in a similar raid on sex141.com. Investigators found a bank account that showed the money earned from the website exceeded HK$250 million (S$43 million).
In 2019, the couple was sent to jail for 48 months and 45 months, respectively. They were among 13 people, aged between 25 and 53, ultimately found guilty on various charges related to the website.
Police said the operators of go141.com received cash from prostitution rings in the form of payments for advertisements. The cheapest package was HK$700 for seven days.
During the raid, HK$1 million in cash, computers, phones, prepaid phone cards and website promotion cards were seized. Investigators have also frozen HK$2.5 million in suspected crime proceeds.
The website was still running normally on Tuesday night, and police said they believed the website’s server was located overseas. Officers have not ruled out the possibility of further arrests.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.