TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Eight of the 152 Vietnamese tourists who went missing late last week were arrested by authorities, while four others have been accounted for, leaving 140 yet to be found, according to the National Immigration Agency (NIA).
Since news broke that 152 Vietnamese tourists had gone missing from the four tour groups they had originally arrived to Taiwan with on Tuesday, the NIA has captured eight of the travelers in Hsinchu County, Chiayi County, Changhua County, Kaohsiung County, and Taoyuan County, reported Liberty Times. The rogue tourists who have been arrested include five men and three women, the latter of whom turned themselves in to authorities.
In addition, reports have surfaced that some of the Vietnamese women who fled from the tour groups have been sent to hide and work in Kaohsiung's notorious prostitution den the "Shark's Fin Brothel" (魚翅樓), so named because the top floor has a shark fin restaurant. Upon obtaining this information, the NIA said that it considers it of great importance and will conduct an investigation with the competent police precinct.
A netizen on the Taiwanese online forum PTT revealed that a friend recently visited the infamous brothel, and for the price of NT$1,600 (US$52), he received the services of a newly arrived Vietnamese sex worker. During a chat with the woman, she said that she had just gotten off the plane a few days ago and she had been taken to work in Kaohsiung.
The netizen estimated that the woman had started working in the brothel at about the same time the tour groups disappeared from two hotels in the city. He suspected that she was being exploited by a snakehead or human smuggling ring to work in the brothel.
The Shark's Fin Brothel is a so-called "erotic beauty shop" in Kaohsiung that is well-known on the internet. It is hidden in a commercial building in Kaohsiung, and to avoid detection, the proprietors use thick metal and wooden panels to conceal rooms and create hidden passages.
Presently, the NIA has fully mobilized its four field brigades under its jurisdiction to carry out the manhunt by means of tracing cars, expanding the search radius, and investigating suspicious premises. Since the search began for the original group of 152 missing tourists, one traveler was found to actually not have left their tour group, while three others have already returned to Vietnam.
NIA agents yesterday (Dec. 26) managed to track down three of the tourists who snuck away from their hotels and arrested them in Chiayi County, Changhua County, and Hsinchu County yesterday. Today, NIA officers arrested five more Vietnamese tourists in Kaohsiung and Taoyuan, leaving 140 still at large.
The three Vietnamese tourists who were arrested have been sent to the Kaohsiung Prosecutor's Office on charges of violating the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (人口販運防制法).
In order to continue to track down the remaining rogue tourists and identify accomplices who are assisting in transportation, hosting, or arranging work groups, the NIA's special brigades are conducting in-depth investigations into criminal techniques, known suspects, vehicles, and districts.
The NIA's secretary has also notified the Vietnam Immigration Department (VID) of the case and is working closely with the department on combating this illegal act in both countries. The VID is closely monitoring the situation and has launched its own investigation.