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3 more suspects linked to online sex ring operating from luxury flat

14 July 2018

 By Vir B. Lumicao

Investigators have linked three more persons to an online sex-for-sale business operating out of a luxury residential tower in Mid-Levels that police busted in a raid in May. 
Hearing is at Eastern Court

The involvement of the additional suspects was discovered during examination of a new set of accounting ledgers as well as credit cards that police found in the flat, the prosecution told Eastern Court Magistrate Peter Law on Jul 13.

The prosecutor did not say whether new arrests had been made.

The revelation came at the hearing of the case of Filipina domestic helpers Joan E. Palpal-latoc and Jeanette V. Gallego, who were arrested on May 15 for allegedly manning a number of dating websites that offered sex to foreign tourists.

The prosecution had said previously the two Filipinas admitted their roles in the online sex business during video-recorded police interviews. However the defense lawyer says he will challenge those interviews as they were held in the absence of counsel.

Palpal-latoc, 40, and Gallego, 47, are facing one charge each of “living on the earnings of prostitution of others” since 2009, when they were hired as domestic workers of a 69-year-old Hong Kong woman identified only as Ms Wong.

Wong, her 72-year-old sister, and a male person were arrested when officers raided the flat on the 43rd floor of Tavistock II residential block on Tregunter Path in Mid-Levels. They were released on police bail.

The prosecutor said later that the online sex ring was operated by a duly registered company that was based in the raided address.

Updating the magistrate on the progress of the investigation, the prosecutor said on Jul 13 that “most of the inquiries had been completed, a few were still outstanding, and all of the mobile phones seized had been inspected”.

He applied for a six-week adjournment, saying further investigation was needed following the discovery of the new set of ledgers and credit cards.

But the magistrate said that was too long as the case had been in court since May 18, and set down the next hearing on Aug 10.

No bail was sought for Palpal-latoc and Gallego, who were remanded in custody.

The two defendants had applied to post bail of $10,000 each after their arrest on May 15 and later increased their offer to $25,000 each, but the prosecution opposed the application, citing their lack of local ties and the risk of destroying evidence and absconding.

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