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Thai Ladies Smuggled Into Canada

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Visas used to smuggle scores of prostitutes into B.C.: police

Once in Canada, their papers were destroyed to aid refugee status, court file says

Noi Saengchanh wanted to escape Thailand's brothels for a life in Canada, where she could ply her trade for more money and a better life, say police.

So for $10,000, police allege, she obtained a fake passport and in 1998 entered Canada, where she and her boyfriend, Anthony Lee, masterminded a human trafficking pipeline that smuggled scores of women from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam into B.C. to work as prostitutes.

According to court documents, the women used student or visitor's visas to get into Canada and upon arrival, their paperwork was destroyed to facilitate refugee status.

The women, who never revealed their true ages, were given fake identities which they used to get B.C. driver's licences. Many, police say in court documents, bought fake certificates to say they were trained massage therapists from the Richmond Wellness Centre.

The women were shipped back and forth between Vancouver and Calgary to work in massage parlours.

Many have now disappeared into the Asian communities of Greater Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

The operation was busted last Wednesday, when police raided 12 massage parlours and two houses in Calgary.

More than 30 charges were laid against 21 people. Among them was Saengchanh, 32, who faces charges for aiding, abetting and living off the avails of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy house and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Police on Friday issued a Canada-wide warrant for Anthony Lee, 36, of Vancouver, whom they claim is the mastermind and the "individual who started it." They are also looking for another nine suspects.

"It [the operation] was based out of Vancouver and they relocated to Calgary and expanded their business," said Staff Sgt. Joe Houben of Calgary police.

Lee has a home in Vancouver and Calgary police believe he may still be in the city, Houben said.

According to the search warrants, Lee told undercover cops that he has a contact in Vancouver who owns a brothel filled with Malaysian women and moves them every six months to keep the heat off them.

Lee is known to local police and has Vancouver gang affiliations dating back to the early to mid-1990s, Vancouver police detective Jim Fisher said.

Wednesday's raids are the culmination of an 18-month undercover probe that started out as an investigation of just one massage parlour.

Calgary police had no idea how far-reaching the sex ring was until they received an anonymous letter leading them to tips that women were being shipped out of B.C. to various massage parlours across Canada.

Posing as massage parlour clients, police came into contact with Saengchanh, who allegedly offered them the chance to buy women from Asia and start their own brothel. They were told the business was "easy money" and in a good month, they could rake in $7,200.

According to the court documents, Saengchanh, who owed an agent $40,000 for arranging her passage from Thailand -- a debt she settled by working as a prostitute -- said she knew contacts in Southeast Asia who recruited women from the sex industry.

She and her partner allegedly told police that once in Canada, the girls' passports are taken away and they are kept in isolation.

The girls paid up to $5,000 each to get phoney certificates from an outfit called Richmond Wellness Centre, which allowed them to pass off as certified massage therapists, the search warrants stated.

Records show Calgary city hall has 43 massage practitioners certified through the Richmond Wellness Centre, which was owned by Robert Sterling Desmond, the search warrants state.

Richmond City Hall records show the business licence for the Richmond Wellness Centre expired in December 2002. However, the signs advertising alternative health care such as acupuncture and aroma/massage therapy are still on the office building on Anderson Road.

A Richmond City Hall records official said that Desmond, although licensed to provide massage therapy, did not have a teaching licence to authorize practitioner certificates.

The office on Anderson Road is now occupied by Patrick Hercus, who once shared it with Desmond. Describing himself as a "spiritual life coach," he said he had nothing to do with the criminal investigation and Richmond Wellness Centre.

--Calgary Herald 2003-11-10

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  • 10 months later...
What a screwed up country

As opposed to what other country?

And is peddling whores is a big deal now; or just peddling whores in Canada?

And these guys aren't geniuses either. That money is chump change in the Vancouver crime scene, where a guy growing dope with 4 lights in a 10X10 room makes more than that per month-with less hassles...


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