An Asian mafia connection is fuelling the multi-million dollar world of sex slaves in Trinidad and Tobago, intelligence sources close to the investigation have revealed to Guardian Media.
These startling details began to emerge as police gathered more information after cracking what they believe was a major sex and drug ring operating in Western Trinidad on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU), Financial Intelligence Branch (FIB) and Child Protection Unit(CPU) arrested at least 18 suspects in West and East Trinidad and rescued 19 South American females.
The young women were rescued from the Stir Fry King Restaurant along Ariapita Avenue in Port-of-Spain, a sprawling house with a swimming pool along Morne Coco Road near St Anthony’s College and another upscale home at 61 Western Circle, Westmoorings.
Sources close to the investigation say the Westmoorings home is owned by Edgar Aboud, who rented out the home several months ago to a Chinese national.
Aboud, who spoke briefly by telephone with Guardian Media yesterday, distanced himself from the matter, saying he had nothing to do with the incident and “knew nothing about it.”
In fact, Guardian Media was informed that Aboud was in the process of breaking the tenant lease for the property and sources close to the investigation said a termination of lease letter had been placed in the tenant’s mailbox some time ago.
Documents of a 33-year-old Chinese national, who police suspect is one of the masterminds of the transnational criminal network and rented the Westmoorings home, were obtained by Guardian Media. The man had a Guyanese passport and a Jamaican license.
“You have to remember the Asian network is also next door,” said a source close to the investigation.
The source indicated that the Chinese national was still at large and they were putting things in place to ensure he was captured soon.
The ongoing investigation into this illicit trade continued to unfold as intelligence sources described in detail how the underground network had infiltrated almost every corner of the country.
“They want children and they want them high on cocaine and heroin and then deal with their ghosts because when you get them so high you can do them anything. And is powerful Asian mafia, powerful and I mean powerful! And their group is not at all an-inclusive group. Their group is an exclusive group,” one high-ranking intelligence source told Guardian Media.
The source explained that the money laundering part of the business went hand in hand with the exploitation of the young girls. “Remember you could buy a girl and sell her over and over and over. So you run your rental and when you done, you sell your rental,” the law enforcement source explained.
The source revealed that girls are brought in batches every six months from Venezuela, mostly via boat, after the arrangements are all made with the help of complicit officials. Girls can fetch up to $10,000 a night to high-end Asian clientele.
“There is a six-month rotation and when you get rotated you are sold. Remember the customers want new goods all the time. The younger the girls and the prettier, the value goes up. It is the price of the stock,” the law enforcement source said.
Another source explained, “This is people with plenty financial might and plenty networks. Powerful networks that can corrupt systems. They don’t corrupt people. People are in the system but they corrupt the system because they will get passports, documents stamped, they will corrupt the system, so it’s systemic.”
The source further explained that the reason this trade has thrived for so long unnoticed was due to the fact that this particular community is dormant.
“They are an underground community that is very vibrant, very underground. What happened is that we exposed that dormant community, people always used to hear about the Asian mafia but nobody doesn’t really know what they mean. Because they don’t come out and make noise, so it is a big challenge for our country to deal with these first-world networks because we deal with gang war, but these, these networks, they are so dynamic, they are so globally networked, that they don’t need to use people in Trinidad because they have corrupted and poisoned the system.”
Officers also seized millions dollars in currency from the Jamlong Casino in Curepe which consisted of US, Sterling Pounds and TT. They were unable to say if this money was in any way connected to the drug and sex ring but are continuing their investigations.
Officers FIB were up to late yesterday verifying the exact amount of money they recovered.
But sources say it could possibly be more than TT $5 million in total. —With reporting by Hema Ramkissoon