A network of pimps exploiting Chinese prostitutes in apartments across France was dismantled in mid-January, Criminal Investigation and a judicial source told AFP on Friday.
According to the latter source, on January 13, in this inquest opened in February 2022, eight people were charged, specifically with aggravated pimping, human trafficking and facilitating illegal residence, all in an organized gang.
Seven of them have been detained, according to the judicial source.
The investigation, launched in 2021, concerns a network linked to criminal organizations in China suspected of exploiting around 40 women who prostituted themselves in short-term rental apartments.
“The women were put into apartments by the pimps” and after a few days they regularly changed towns from Auxerre (east) to Lyon (southeast), Elvire Arrighi, head of AFP’s Central Office for the Suppression of Human Trafficking (Ocrteh), told AFP.
This office carried out the investigation with the police on the border of Nancy in eastern France, where the investigation began.
The network, “organized like a pyramid” as “traditionally observed in the Chinese mafia,” had a leader nicknamed “the master,” according to her.
Below him two right arms, each managing a switchboard where clients made an appointment after finding the number on websites dedicated to prostitution.
The pimps lived in and around Paris. Victims donated 50% of their income to the network, and the money raised “flowed back to China, to local criminal organizations,” Commissioner Arrighi continued.
Respondents used Chinese applications to communicate or transfer money, “which made investigations difficult,” she said.
Most of the victims were in an irregular situation. Some have agreed to be cared for by associations – as trafficking victims’ rights allow – and have thus been able to benefit from a right of residence.
According to Ms Arrighi, €30,000 in cash was seized from the accused’s home.
One of them, a French national, made housing available to the network, according to the commissioner.