Subject: Human trafficking ring busted

July 6, 2009

Human trafficking ring busted

DILI - POLICE in East Timor have arrested 10 members of an alleged human trafficking ring who brought women into the tiny country as sex workers, the United Nations mission and police said on Monday.

The suspects, most of them Chinese nationals, were arrested in a raid on a bar in the Marconi neighbourhood of the capital Dili in a joint operation between East Timorese and UN police, the statement said.

Twenty-two women from Indonesia and China were found working at the raided bar, a police source told AFP.

The women, who are aged between 17 and 29, were allegedly lured to East Timor on false promises they would be given jobs as masseuses or waitresses, but then forced to work as sex workers.

'The UN regards human trafficking as a form of serious exploitation and abuse. Police will not hesitate to take action against human traffickers,' UN Police Commissioner Luis Carrilho said in the statement.

East Timor, which won formal independence in 2002 after a bloody 24-year Indonesian occupation, has one of the world's most impoverished populations despite massive gas wealth.

UN police and international forces help maintain stability in the country, but the presence of thousands of well-paid foreigners has helped fuel the local sex industry, NGOs say. -- AFP

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