Detectives have been investigating the Austrian-based Chinese gang since early 2016. Officers say that two of the gang members maintained close contact with a criminal organisation based in China, and that they persuaded women in China to travel to Austria where they said they would be employed in massage parlours or as au pairs.
If the women agreed, they were then asked to pay €10,000 for a visa for Austria. They were escorted by a gang member to Vienna airport and shortly after their arrival their passports were taken away and they were forced into prostitution. The police have identified 150 potential victims.
Many of the women were made to work in brothels in Vienna, which are owned by two of the gang members who are based in the Austrian capital, and the mother of one suspect.
Not only were the women’s movements controlled by the gang, but they were also threatened with violence if they attempted to leave. Police said the gang also took all the money the women earned. After a few months working in Vienna, police said that some of the terrified women were taken to brothels in Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria and Carinthia.
Six suspects have been arrested and are in pretrial custody in Vienna. Another suspect is on the run. Police said they searched 13 properties and seized a handgun, counterfeit money and fake IDs. €30,000 in cash was also seized.