(Trinidad Guardian) Two more suspects in a multi-national prostitution ring in west Trinidad, which was busted by police two months ago, have appeared in court for human trafficking.
Jan Boa Wang and Wei Liang Wu were denied bail when they appeared before Magistrate Cherril-Anne Antoine in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday morning, charged with harbouring two Venezuelan minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
During the hearing, Antoine decided to remove members of the public, including media personnel, from the court as she was about to read the charges, in which the victims’ names were mentioned.
The men, who were represented by attorney Peter Taylor, were kept informed of what was transpiring in court by a translator fluent in Mandarin Chinese. They were not called upon to plead to the two charges, which were laid indictably.
Guardian Media understands that after the process was completed, Cpl Irving Joseph, of the Court and Process Branch, asked Antoine not to consider bail for them until investigators receive their criminal record tracing from Interpol. She agreed and adjourned the case to April 29.
Under the Trafficking In Persons Act, a person convicted of committing the offence against an adult faces a minimum fine of $500,000 and no less than 15 years in prison. Those who target minors are liable to a minimum $1 million fine and no less than 20 years in prison upon conviction.
Wang and Wu are the fifth and sixth persons to be charged over the prostitution ring.
On February 5, a team of police officers from several specialist units, led by Police Commissioner Gary Griffith, raided private properties and businesses in Westmoorings, Woodbrook and Curepe.
During the raids, police rescued 19 Venezuelan teenagers who were between the ages of 15 and 19. The girls remain in protective custody.
One month later, Chinese-born Guyanese national Jinfu Zhu and his 23-year-old Venezuelan girlfriend Solient Torres were charged with 43 offences pertaining to the raid. The couple was jointly charged with 22 charges under the Sexual Offences Act for operating a brothel at Zhu’s rented home in Westmoorings on specific dates between September 17 last year and January 1 this year. Torres received 20 additional charges for aiding and abetting prostitution between September last year and February this year. They were also jointly charged under the Proceeds of Crime Act for being possession of TT$80,000, US$2,393 and other small amounts of assorted currency, knowing that the funds were the proceeds of crime.
Zhu and Torres were denied bail during the first court appearance and again as they reappeared in court last week due to delays in obtaining their Interpol tracing. They are expected to apply for bail when they return to court on April 17.
Two Chinese nationals who were held in the raid have also appeared in court for assembling to gamble and for ammunition possession.