Massage Parlor Raid Suspects Sent to Court

Seven Vietnamese nationals arrested during simultaneous raids on a pair of massage parlors in central Phnom Penh on Thursday night have been sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for their role in the alleged trafficking of minors, police and a child-protection NGO said Sunday.

“We conducted a raid, and now the suspects have been sent to the court,” said Pol Phiethey, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, who led the operation at about 9 p.m. on Thursday night, referring further questions to court officials.

“Both brothels fronted as massage parlors and are apparently part of the same criminal network that traffics and sells Vietnamese girls for sex,” the Washington-based International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a statement on Friday.

The raid was the largest that “IJM Cambodia has helped with this year,” the organization said in the statement, adding that police arrested seven suspects.

Lisa Slavovsky, director of aftercare at IJM, said by telephone Sunday that the “complex” double raid followed a monthslong investigation by IJM and anti-human trafficking police into the massage parlors where sex was sold.

The brothels were located on Street 63 in Daun Penh district’s Chak­tomuk commune and on a stretch of Sothearos Boulevard in Chamkar Mon district’s Tonle Basac commune where dozens of multi­story massage parlors line the street.

Of the 20 women and girls extricated during the operation—all of whom were Vietnamese—“a substantial number” were underage, Ms. Slavovsky said.

“The police are still in the process of determining the number of…child victims, but that was the reason for the intervention,” she said, adding that several clients inside the two massage parlors at the time of the raids were detained and questioned by police, but were later released.

“The suspects [were] the managers and pimps. I don’t think the owner was there at the time,” Ms. Slavovsky added.

The rescued women are now either in rehabilitation shelters or back with their families, she said.

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