While the US Department of State has labelled T&T as a destination for the illegal sex trade, local immigration officials uncovered a massive prostitution ring on Friday night and arrested 78 foreign nationals and three locals.
Around 9.30 pm, on Friday night, immigration officials, along with San Fernando CID officers, swooped down on the popular Classic Seamen Hotel at Elizabeth Street, Marabella, where they found 76 scantily dressed women, allegedly soliciting clients. Several of the women were discovered in rooms on the lower floor of the establishment, while others were found in the lobby and bar area, some of whom were tending to three Chinese nationals.
According to reports, the women ran at the sight of officers but were easily captured as the premises is surrounded by high walls topped by barbed wire. The officers questioned the manager and assistant manager and the two were arrested and charged with managing a brothel under Section 22 of the Sexual Offences Act (1984).
The women–72 of whom were Dominican Republic nationals, two Jamaicans, one Guyanese and a Columbian–were also arrested and charged along with the Chinese nationals for immigration offences and soliciting. They are expected to appear before a San Fernando magistrate tomorrow.
Human Trafficking report
In 2012, the US Department of State's Human Trafficking Report said that T&T was "a destination, source and transit country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking, and adults subjected to forced labour."
The reports stated that women and girls are trafficked from South America and the Dominican Republic and are sent to work at local brothels and clubs while local men lure local teenagers into immoral acts for shelter and materials goods. The report went on to say that there were companies in T&T holding foreigners' passports, which was a common indicator of human trafficking.
However, the US Department of State said that while Government did not fully comply with the minimum standard for the eradication of the trade, they were making significant efforts.
In 2011, former national security minister Brigadier John Sandy said, "The Government, through the Police Service and intelligence agencies, will be paying greater attention to establishments that surreptitiously operate as brothels." He made the announcement while speaking on the Human Trafficking Bill in the Senate.
Despite police crackdown on several alleged brothels in South and Central over the past year, a senior police officer said the trade continues to flourish.