Police have detained a man who worked as a pimp in a Ho Chi Minh City area dubbed the “Westerner’s zone” or “backpacker area,” Vietnamese media reported. Police officers District 1 arrested Nguyen Ba Huy, 43, after they raided the Hoa Long Hotel at 160 Bui Thi Xuan Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward, and caught two sex workers serving their foreign guests in two rooms on Sunday. The ward is often known as the “backpacker area” because as it is home to a community of foreigners who visit the city as tourists. The two prostitutes told police that Huy had sent them to the hotel. Police officers went on to capture Huy and escorted him to their station for questioning.
A sex worker in the call-girl ring led by Nguyen Ba Huy. Photo: VnExpress
Huy told investigators that he had made a living as a motorbike taxi driver in the “backpacker area” before becoming a procurer. The pimp said he had set up a call-girl ring to provide prostitutes for foreigners only and printed “special business cards” that only showed his name “Huy,” his cellphone number, and the word “Gái” (Girls). Every night Huy came to bars, restaurants, and hotels in the “backpacker area” and distributed such cards to foreigners there, news website Dan Viet reported. Huy said he had rented rooms for sex workers to stay and offer them to foreigners at their request over the phone. Initial investigation showed that the man had long been known by many hotels and bars as a procurer supplying sex workers to foreigners in the area.
One of the "special business cards" Huy distrbuted to foreigners at bars, restaurants, and hotels in the "backpacker area" in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: VnExpress
Huy directly took prostitutes to hotels at his customers’ request. He later received VND1 million ($46.3) as a “brokering fee” from sex workers who charged their guests $100 each time they had sex, Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh City Law) newspaper reported. Many sex workers in Huy’s ring are repeat offenders, police said, adding these prostitutes were once arrested and fined but they still relapsed into such vice. Some of them said, “We could do nothing other than working as sex workers. We chose young foreigners only and never spent nights with Vietnamese men.”
In Vietnam, sex work is illegal and considered a social evil.
Corrections and apologies: April 7, 2015 at 17:45 (GMT + 7)
An earlier version of this story contained a headline that read, “Bad news for expats: Provider of sex workers in Saigon 'backpacker area' arrested.” It was our mistake to write the headline that has driven many readers to feel offended. We apologize profusely to all our readers for this editing gaffe, which will never be made again. Thanks for reading us!