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Ho Chi Minh City busts restaurant moonlighting as foreigner brothel

Ho Chi Minh City busts restaurant moonlighting as foreigner brothel

Sunday, December 31, 2023, 14:28 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City busts restaurant moonlighting as foreigner brothel
This image shows seven suspects, including Zhang Lei, the Chinese owner of Fortune Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, in police custody in Ho Chi Minh City, December 17, 2023. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police

Police in Ho Chi Minh City have detained seven suspects in their raid on a Chinese-owned restaurant caught offering prostitution brokerage mainly to foreigners.

The municipal police department said on Saturday that they had arrested Zhang Lei, 48-year-old Chinese man and owner of Fortune Restaurant, located on Tran Hung Dao Street in District 5, on charges of prostitution brokering.

Zhang’s six Vietnamese accomplices, including Dinh Thi Thanh Tuyen, Nguyen Huu Chi, Nguyen Quoc Anh, Do Xuan Hoang, Le Thi Diem, and Tran Thi Thuy Lieu, were also detained on the same offense.

The arrests were made when a police team inspected the restaurant, doubling as a karaoke parlor, on December 17 following days of surveillance prompted by a tip-off from the public.

A police officer reads an arrest warrant to Zhang Lei (L), the Chinese owner of Fortune Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, December 17, 2023. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police

A police officer reads an arrest warrant to Zhang Lei (L), the Chinese owner of Fortune Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City, December 17, 2023. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police

From the testimonies of the detainees, police officers continued raiding some hotels in the district and caught five Fortune attendants providing sex services for the restaurant’s guests.

Among the hotels where the restaurant’s attendants and their guests had sex are Phuong Hoang, Valentine, and others, according to the inspection team.

Investigators revealed that Zhang, assisted by the six Vietnamese suspects, had been running a sophisticated and extensive sex brokerage operation at the restaurant.

This illicit activity involved approximately 200 female attendants who served hundreds of patrons daily, predominantly foreigners, with the majority being Chinese, Malaysian, and Taiwanese, police said.

The attendants facilitated the provision of sexual services to foreign patrons.

The amount of illegal money seized from Fortune Restaurant in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, December 17, 2023.  Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police

The amount of illegal money seized from Fortune Restaurant in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, December 17, 2023. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police

Following negotiations, they escorted their guests to hotel rooms, charging VND5 million (US$206) for a single sex session and VND12 million ($494) for an overnight session.

In addition to operating as a prostitution broker under the cover of a restaurant, Fortune also offered unlicensed karaoke services, police officers said.

Upon scrutinizing the restaurant's records, investigators concluded that Zhang and his accomplices unlawfully generated VND44 billion ($1.81 million) from their sex brokerage services from February of this year up to the time of examination.

During a search of Zhang's residence, law enforcement seized over VND21 billion ($865,400), believed to be proceeds from the prostitution brokerage at Fortune.

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Vinh Tho - Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

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