Portsmouth woman helped run 'sexual conveyor belt' of prostitution

A former couple are facing jail after they helped fund their child’s private education by trafficking women into a ‘sexual conveyor belt’ of prostitution across England and Wales.

Malaysian Hong Chin, 45, ran a pit bull dog breeding kennel on a country estate in Esher, Surrey, where his ex-partner Li Wei Gao, 44, lived in a converted barn with their daughter.

Portsmouth woman Ting Li Lu. Picture: Sussex police

At the same time, the pair raked in more than £100,000 through the trade in trafficking women for sex work until the operation was shut down by Sussex Police.

They were helped by Chin’s then-lover, Ting Li Lu, 47, of Portsmouth, who he then lived with in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, jurors heard.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, all three defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain between February 2013 and June 2015.

They were also convicted of plotting to traffic for sexual exploitation into the UK between March and June 2015.

Malaysian Hong Chin, his ex-partner Li Wei Gao, and Chin's then-lover, Portsmouth woman Ting Li Lu. Picture: Sussex police

The defendants were found guilty on all charges by a majority after the jury deliberated for more than 14 hours.

Sussex detectives had identified 18 women from China, Hong Kong and Korea who were allegedly exploited for prostitution.

But they came up across a wall of silence from the women, many of whom denied being involved in the sex trade, with only one prepared to give evidence in court.

Investigators gathered other evidence from mobile phones, adult websites and booking records as well as CCTV footage which showed the defendants escorting women to hotels around the country.

Li Wei Gao. Picture: Sussex police

The women advertised sex services on adult websites and the contact number was fielded by the defendants who would organise and notify them of jobs.

The gang would use false details when they reserved rooms through Booking.com at hotels including Premier Inn, Travelodge, and Holiday Inn.

Between August 2013 and February 2015, Chin made a total of 92 hotel reservations on the online booking service, the court heard.

The women were sent to perform sexual services in hotels all over Southern England and Wales, including Maidstone, Cardiff, Brighton, Gatwick, Eastbourne, Southampton, Woking, Exeter, Guildford, Windsor and Bournemouth.

Malaysian Hong Chin. Picture: Sussex police

The customers paid in cash on arrival and some of it was channelled into the accounts of Chin and Gao.

When police visited the rooms they frequently found them in disarray, with the detritus of prostitution in evidence, including condoms.

In his summing up, Judge Philip Katz QC described the operation as a ‘sexual conveyor belt’.

Chin had a fake British passport and went by various different names including Ricky, Goon Saw and Ken.

His ex-partner used a false passport in the name of Xin Pan and also was known by the alias Jassica, the court heard.

The victims, many of whom were believed to be debt-bonded to traffickers in China, had rejected offers of support from authorities and all but one returned to their home countries.

The woman who gave evidence in the trial has since claimed asylum in the UK.

Chin, of Dunstall, Burton-Upon-Trent, Gao, of Heathside, Oxshott, and Lu, of Castle Close, Southsea, denied the charges against them.

Detective Inspector Andy Richardson of Sussex Police said: ‘This has been a complex and lengthy investigation where vulnerable women were trafficked into the UK for the purposes of prostitution.

‘Often the women were moved to different towns around the South East where hotel rooms were booked for them, and then they were told who they would be seeing and what services they had to offer; they had no say in any of this.

‘This was effectively a well organised and structured business which made the defendants thousands of pounds, as was seen from their bank accounts.

‘These convictions are a really positive result for Sussex Police, for the victims involved and for all communities to show that human trafficking is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.’

Chin and his two Chinese co-defendants will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on a future date to be fixed.

More from News