Out in the streets of one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping districts, an American man looking for a good time on Monday night ended up in a building full of brothel rooms and found himself in the middle of a major anti-vice raid by police and immigration officers.
The 30-year-old man was back at the scene on Argyle Street in Mong Kok on Tuesday when he spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity about the police raid that netted nearly 100 suspected sex workers operating out of individual cubicles carved out of subdivided flats.
He said he had ended up at the 14-storey King Hing Building out of curiosity “as a single man” at around 8pm on Monday night.
“My Chinese friend told me: ‘You want to find girls? This place has a lot of girls; if you want to do it, it’s the place to go’,” he said.
After knocking on one door after another on several floors and asking for a price, he found “the one”.
“I went up and down and then I found an attractive girl. She was from Thailand,” he said, standing in one of the corridors. “We didn’t get very far and then things started happening.”
A screen in the room showing security footage of the corridor outside suddenly blacked out, he recalled, and they heard people yelling in Cantonese, along with loud banging noises.
That “must have been sledgehammers going through the doors”, he said. “It was pretty intense. She told me it was people fighting. I didn’t know what was happening until the police came in.”
A police officer barged into the room, asking the man if he had had sex with the woman, which he denied. After inspecting his passport, the officer had told him to “get out of there before he changed his mind”.
The man said he was supposed to pay HK$400 (US$51) upfront to the woman, which he did not, and had no idea what had happened to her after he left.
Almost all floors of the building were left empty on Tuesday, while some doors with fluorescent pink lights adorning their frames had been broken down.
An advertisement outside one door showed a picture of a scantily clad Asian woman, with the words: “[HK$]450, different uniforms available.”
Another poster said: “New foreign girls. Real Russians. Great service.”
Investigators said at least two 14K triad-linked prostitution syndicates had arranged for the 99 suspects to work and provide sex services in the “one-woman” brothels.
With the help of immigration officers on Monday night, police detained 17 Russians, seven Thai transgender women, two women from Ukraine, one from Kazakhstan, 13 from Thailand and 59 female visitors from the mainland, the force said.
There were three to five flats on every floor, with some subdivided into five cubicles, some as large as 70 sq ft with attached toilets. In one dimly lit room, a pack of unused condoms and a tube of lubricant lay on the table.
Why was the man – who said he regretted entering the building on Monday night – there for a second day? To collect his watch, which he had left behind in the brothel, he said. The room was padlocked.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (posted on a wall inside a room and originally in Russian)
1. When clients approach the door, they should ring into the video intercom. When the girl opens the door, right away you need to smile and give the price HK$600. Actively seduce the client, flirt and make it so that he chooses you and enters the room and stays there. You have to take payment before work.
2. When you have personal errands and you need to go out into the street, you absolutely have to tell us in advance, so that we know and don’t lose you. During working hours, you’re only allowed to leave the room for up to two times and not for long. Better not longer than 30 minutes each time. You cannot leave with the rest of the group to eat, you cannot attract attention, it is better to leave on your own. Also better not to come to work too late, this is important for your own safety.
3. Pay attention to your expensive possessions, your phone, money, jewellery, etc. Put them away when you’re working with a client. When you leave the room, take all your expensive stuff with you.
4. Use separate towels [for each client]. Keep everything clean.
5. You are not allowed to talk loudly in the corridors, you are not here alone … there might be complaints from other people [ineligible].
6. You should be very attentive, you should communicate in the WeChat group. When we tell you that you cannot work right now, you should urgently lock the doors, the faster the better. Warnings about police checks will be made in the WeChat group. React quickly and before you have a command that you can work again, you have to sit quietly in the room and not open the door to anyone. This is for your safety, pay attention.
7. When the client enters the room and stays for a session, right away you have to write into the WeChat group. If you don’t write, it will be treated as a secret job on the side and for that there will definitely be a fine in the form of a payment of 10 times [per session]. This is very serious! Don’t risk your money, we’re watching this.
8. When the client is done and has left the room, clean up the room so it is clean and tidy. This is also important. If someone doesn’t comply with this simple rule, there will be a fine of HK$500 to HK$2000. You are girls, so act like girls. We hope for your understanding, and we want to have a pleasant collaboration so that you can get a good income. We don’t have any desire or intention to fine you or to have issues or arguments. We are here for peace and communal respect. Thank you for your understanding.
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