x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Gang arrested over prostitution racket

Police arrest a gang of Indian men who allegedly posed as Emiratis and policemen to kidnap housemaids and force them to work in an organised prostitution racket.

SHARJAH // Police have arrested a gang of Indian men who allegedly posed as Emiratis and policemen to kidnap housemaids and force them to work in an organised prostitution racket.

Five men were arrested after dressing as Emiratis, posing as police and using rented cars to kidnap the women, a police spokesman said.

The men pretended to be taking the victims to a police station for questioning, but instead drove them to rented apartments where the gang operated.

Authorities were tipped about the gang's activities after a recent kidnapping in Sharjah that witnesses said was made by what appeared to be police officers wearing civilian clothes and driving a Toyota Camry. Police identified the men and raided their apartment in Al Yarmouk area.

"Three of the men in the apartment tried to escape through a window, while their other two colleagues surrendered. They were all arrested," a police spokesman said. "There were also four girls in the apartment at the time of arrest, of Indian and Bangladeshi origin."

Police found a large quantity of alcohol and an unspecified amount of drugs when they raided the apartment, a discovery that could lead to further charges being filed against the suspects.

The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy regarding drug use and possession, and alcohol consumption is also illegal except with a personal liquor licence.

Two of the women in the flat told police that they had been kidnapped by the gang and that the other two had been purchased from another human trafficker. The men had forced them into prostitution by threatening to kill anyone who dared to try and run away, a threat the women said they believed because they thought their kidnappers were policemen.

Police investigations also found that the men were using several additional apartments in the emirate as sites for their prostitution ring, and used an unspecified number of women to work there.

They have been referred to public prosecutors. The spokesman said cases involving suspects posing as law enforcement officials were on the increase.

"Impersonation of police officers is now becoming a problem, especially if police [are being] impersonated in serious crimes like human trafficking and people cannot report the crime immediately," he said.

"We ask residents not to shy from asking police for their identification cards. A police officer will not ask you to do something that is wrong and if someone does, just ask for his ID."

 

ykakande@thenational.ae