Bern officals crack Thai human trafficking ring

Bern officals crack Thai human trafficking ring
Photo: Joshua Rindner
The Bern cantonal prosecutor’s office says it has charged a 52-year-old Swiss-Thai woman for human trafficking and exploiting 25 sex trade workers from Thailand.

The victims, including young women and transexuals, were working in brothels financed by the woman and operated by other people of Thai origin in the canton of Aargau, Bern and Lucerne, the office said on Friday.

The accused is alleged to have paid 10,000 to 15,000 francs to have each of the victims come to Switzerland, directly from Thailand.

A 47-year-old Thai man has been charged for his role as right-hand man, chauffeur and for handling the cash revenues from the brothels.

The two, who have been detained in jail for four months, face charges of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, promotion of prostitution and offences against the law on foreigners.

If convicted, they face a minimum jail term of five years, Christof Schuerer, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told the Berner Zeitung.

The victims of the traffickers came from poor families and were lured to Switzerland under false pretences, the prosecutor’s office said.

Upon arrival after a “horrendous journey” they had to each pay off tens of thousands of francs in “debts”, the office said.

Without permits or local language skills, they were at the mercy of the brothel operators, according to the prosecution.

The pair have largely admitted to their activities, which involved accomplices in Thailand.

Swiss police and prosecutors say they are consulting with the Thai authorities over the human trafficking case.

It follows another human trafficking affair busted by Bern cantonal authorities in October 2012 when 50 women and transexuals from Thailand were forced to work as prostitutes under similar circumstances.

A 43-year-old Thai woman was sentenced by the Bern supreme court to six and half years in prison for human trafficking and promoting prostitution.

He husband was jailed for three years for his role in aiding and abetting the offences.

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