Lahore Politician Involved In Lankan Racket
The Special Investigation Unit of the Immigration and Emigration Department recently succeeded in revealing a full-scale human smuggling racket in which attractive female teenagers were being smuggled into Sri Lanka from Pakistan to be employed in the sex trade.
Following the raid carried out recently, in which five Pakistani female teenagers between the age group of 16 and 25 were arrested, it has now come to light that a gang including a powerful regional politician in Lahore was involved in the human smuggling racket.
The investigation revealed that four Pakistanis were involved in sending girls to Sri Lanka. No sooner than the Pakistani female youngsters were arrested, two people including the main suspect in the racket had fled the country. However, officials of the Immigration and Emigration Department were able to arrest two suspects at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport when they were trying to flee the country.
These women are residents of Lahore and they have been working in regional palm estates before they were sent to Sri Lanka as sex workers.
It is alleged that girls are being recruited through the powerful politician in Lahore and thereafter they are being smuggled into Sri Lanka on the pretext of employing them at night clubs as dancers.
It is alleged that even though Pakistan law does not allow people below 18 years to obtain passports, fake documents are being produced in this regard in order to send female teenagers to Sri Lanka. Such girls enter the country via tourist visas and engage in these illegal activities, it was further revealed.
The gang and the sex workers who were arrested recently had entered the country on February 23 and stayed in the Dehiwala area in an apartment at a housing complex paying a rent as much as Rs. 100,000 a month.
It was now revealed that these sex workers were employed at a night club in Kollupitiya as dancers and had engaged in prostitution while other members in the gang were leading the racket from various locations in the area.
The charge for one night with a sex worker in this gang has been USD 500, it was revealed.
Accordingly, the racketeers have been earning about Rs. 55,000 per night from each girl, but they have taken extra precaution not to attract Sri Lankan clients in this regard. The sex workers had often looked out for foreign clients and casino players at night clubs. It was revealed these sex workers first approach the probable client and then connect them to the relevant mediators in the racket in order to finalise a deal.
Since Pakistan and most of the Muslim countries do not allow similar businesses to function in their countries, these racketeers smuggle teenage girls to other Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and earn huge amounts of money.
Girls from Thailand, Bangladesh, India, China and Sri Lanka are said to be in demand in the local sex trade than those who come from other countries.
The investigation into the racket revealed that the foreigners who seek the service of a sex worker have to reserve a room at a five-star hotel and they also have to bear the expenditure on food and drinks.Normally, a five-star hotel charges about Rs. 36,000 for a night accommodation.
However, it was revealed that even though the racketeers charge as much as USD 500 from a client, they pay only about USD 100 for the sex worker.
These sex workers have to comply with the rules of the racket. Therefore, they have to hand over the balance money to the middlemen and they earn as much as USD 2,000 per night, it is alleged.
Those who engage in such rackets treat Sri Lanka as one of the main countries that they can engage in their businesses profitably while countries like Sri Lanka are taking much effort to improve their tourism industry by attracting more and more Asian tourists. The intelligent units of the Immigration and Emigration are receiving information regularly now that such human smuggling rackets are being operative in Sri Lanka due to recent lessening of Visa related rules.
The arrested two suspects and the two young females are being held at the Mirihana refugee camp. The department officials, meanwhile, are positive that they will be able to reveal more details of the racket in the near future. It is pointed out that since Sri Lanka provides immense freedom for people and that the country shelters multiple ethnic groups and that it allows people to engage in anything they prefer, such racketeers select Sri Lanka as one of their main hubs to engage in human smuggling business. While it is being speculated that many Asian countries are main locations for human smuggling, the concrete evidence to prove the allegation have not been found yet, officials said.
Most of the time, the residential addresses in Sri Lanka given to the Immigration and Emigration by the visa-on-arrival tourists have been proved incorrect via the investigation carried out in this regard.
Therefore, the department is focusing on introducing a new viable system so that they can trail the whereabouts of tourists who arrive in the country via tourist visas. At present Sri Lanka is one of the signatories of the international agreement of the Prevention of Human Smuggling. The Immigration and Emigration Department of Sri Lanka is adamant in cracking such rackets in the future, its officials said.