Police in Ghana have rescued six Vietnamese women aged between 29 and 38 who were forced into a prostitution ring run by two Chinese men in the western coastal city of Sekondi Takoradi near the African country’s oil reserve.
The ring was busted on March 12 thanks to investigative articles by well-known Ghanaian journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas at The New Crusading Guide newspaper.
Five-month undercover investigation
After receiving the intelligence information on the trafficking ring from Interpol, Anas carried out a five-month extensive undercover work in order to expose the crime. His was also assisted by U.S., UK, and Vietnam embassies.
GhanaWeb quoted Patience Quaye, director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service, as saying that the ring was first detected by Interpol in November last year.
Anas disguised himself as John Sullivan from the U.S., who worked at an oil rig in the area. He and a compatriot went to Jang Mi guesthouse in Tadisco Down, a suburb of Sekondi Takoradi.
They signaled for one of the women at the guesthouse to draw closer to them but they were refused by 49-year-old Hwan Se Hui, who ran the facility and ‘owned’ their lives.
“The one you just signaled is tired after a long work last night. We had some Indians about seven of them so she was at their service but there are some fresh ones I know Americans love so much,” Se Hui said.
“You only part away with a hundred dollars per hour and they are yours. Whether you want to have them here or take them to a different location is for you to decide,” the Chinese man continued.
Hwan Se Hui reassured his clients that his “girls are active, if it’s about getting sexually satisfied, be rest assured, they can withstand every weather.”
Anas and his compatriot paid Hwan Se Hui for the services of two Vietnamese women and took them to another hotel where a team of police was waiting.
At the hotel, despite the language barrier, Anas and his compatriot managed to seek answers from the two regarding their arrival in Ghana and their job.
Six victims currently under protection
A representative from the Press Office of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry told Tuoi Tre newspaper on Thursday that the six Vietnamese women are now under protection at a hotel in Accra, Ghana.
“They are in good physical and spiritual health conditions and are protected 24/7 by local police,” the representative said.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra is working on the identity of the victims, the Press Office representative revealed.
The victims will likely appear at the upcoming trial court of the two Chinese traffickers as witnesses, the person said, adding that IOM and Interpol will bring them home after the court.
The Vietnamese Embassy in Nigeria, which is also in charge of Ghana, is cooperating with local authorities to protect the rights of these women, according to the representative.
They told Anas and his compatriot that they did not feel comfortable about the job they were doing but they had no choice, for they were far away from Vietnam with no money and without access to their travel documents.
After their revelations, one of the two women went into the bathroom to prepare to serve her client. She later stepped out of it with only a towel wrapped around her body.
The police team then appeared and held the women.
Afterwards, police officers raided Jang Mi guesthouse and arrested Hwan Se Hui, whose accomplice Tian Ping, 35, was also captured later following Hwan’s revelation of his involvement.
They also found other girls, including four Vietnamese, being kept there under repressive conditions.
The police saw some passports, contraceptive pills, porn movies, and some Indian hemp in the guesthouse rooms.
They also discovered a bag which contained some of the money that the guesthouse owners had made out of the women.
The six Vietnamese women were taken to the Takoradi District Police Command, and then transferred to Ghana’s capital, Accra.
Aremeyaw Anas said the Chinese charged clients from US$100 to $500 for the sexual service of each girl.
Promised well-paid jobs in U.S.
According to Anas, the six Vietnamese women agreed to leave their home country last year because they were lured by the promise of their Chinese recruiters that they would get high-paying jobs in factories in the United States.
However, the women never landed on the American shores as promised but they ended up thousands of miles away on the Sekondi Takoradi coast, where they were coerced to offer sexual services to multi-national men in the Western Region of Ghana.
To serve their clients, the six were requested to use fake names, which were Hung (whose real age is 32), Bian (29), Anh (35), Hoa (31), Thi (38), and Mai (38). They have been in Ghana for more than a year.
Hwan Se Hui and Tian Ping are now under arrest pending investigation. The Chinese Embassy in Ghana has yet to give any comment on the arrest, according to a Ghanaian newspaper.
Patience Quaye, the anti-human trafficking unit director, said the two traffickers would stand on trial and, if convicted, face a prison sentence of not shorter than five years.
According to The National Turk newspaper, 120 Chinese nationals were deported from Ghana last year after they were found illegally entering the country and being involved in illcitit activities.