Taiwan police smash Chinese multi-million dollar prostitution ring

TAIPEI - Taiwanese authorities said Wednesday they busted a prostitution ring exploiting young Chinese women that was estimated to have earned at least Tw$100 million (S$4.18 million) in one year.

Police arrested 18 suspects, including eight Chinese women and their pimps and chauffers during raids near Taipei late Tuesday and early Wednesday, said the National Immigration Agency.

The ring allegedly touted young Chinese women and college students who came to Taiwan under the pretext of undergoing medical examinations and was estimated to have made more than Tw$100 million since it was set up a year ago, according to the agency.

A 25-year-old woman identified by her family name Wu, who charged up to Tw$15,000 (S$628) per service and claimed to have received 110 clients in just 14 days, was among the arrested, it added.

"The ring modelled its business on fast food chain restaurants and boasted that it introduced new girls every seven days in order to satisfy the different needs of the clients," an officer told reporters.

Taiwanese media said the ring frequently sent out "agents" to China to recruit new girls.

Travel between Taiwan and China, which split in 1949 after a civil war, has boomed since Taipei's Beijing-friendly government took power in 2008, pledging to boost trade links and tourism.

However, arrests of Chinese women on prostitution charges in Taiwan have been increasing in recent years.

Prostitution is illegal in Taiwan but the parliament in 2011 passed a controversial bill to allow red-light districts in a bid to regulate the underground sex industry. So far no such district has been set up yet.