It was 11:30 am. The suite at the hotel was as cozy as my Vietnamese companion's cheeks; so chubby and rosy. She was entertaining me with a hearty and flirty foreplay of conversation.
She was pretty and sporty, her eyes gleaming lusciously, her legs absolutely sensuous and her dimple cheeks absolutely gracious. She took off her brazier and asked me to come closer, ready to quench a passionate fire.
My name was John Sullivan, from America, working on the oil rig for Tullow Oil Ghana at the Takoradi Habour; Ghana's newly found oil city. I was undercover.
Enticed by the promise of well-paying jobs as factory-hands in the United States of America (USA), six women aged between 29 and 38 years agreed to leave Vietnam: believing their Chinese recruiter would deliver as promised.
They never landed on the shores of America as promised but rather landed thousands of miles away on the coast of Ghana's twin city, Sekondi Takoradi. The promise of a well-paying job was probably also swept away by the waves and in its place they found sexual enslavement by two Chinese nationals - Hwang Se Hui, 49 years and his accomplice Cz Tian Ping, 35 years.
The six; Hung, 32, Bian, 29, Anh, 35, Hoa, 31, Thi, 38, and Mai, 38,(not their real names) have been in Ghana for over a year now. They had first been camped at Tema and after the lead trafficker had recouped his 'investment' for bringing them into the country, the six were transferred into the custody of Se Hui and Tiang Ping to offer sexual services to other nationals in the Western Region of Ghana.
Intelligence information on the activities of the trafficking ring was first circulated by the International Police Agency, INTERPOL. After receiving the information, 5 months of extensive undercover work was undertaken by Anas Aremeyaw Anas leading to the arrest of the traffickers. The operation was also assisted by the US and UK embassies, and the Vietnamese Embassy.
The Long Search
Having established that these women were being hired out to clients who had the option of either spending time with them at the Jang Mi Guest House in Takoradi or taking them to another location and returning them on an agreed date and time, our undercover reporter set out to unmask the faces whose activities led to the abuse and prostitution of these girls.
Our investigators contacted the traffickers for the services of two ladies (who will be taken to a place determined by our investigators) and made payment as agreed. The next step was to take these ladies to a hotel, an arrangement which was allowed.
The two ladies assigned to the investigators were dressed in exceedingly small tight – fitting tops and hot pants. They each had a purse and mobile phone.
Upon arrival at the hotel room, the investigators managed despite the language barrier to seek answers to questions surrounding their coming to Ghana and the kind of work they were doing.
It turned out that as uncomfortable as they felt about the job they were doing, they had no option because they were far away from Vietnam with no money and without access to their travel documents. They very much craved to return home.
After these revelations, one of them went into the washroom to prepare to serve her client. The police team around the hotel premises was immediately signaled to come in. She returned from the washroom with only a towel wrapped around her only to be accosted by police who requested that she get back into her clothes. With that the stage was set to swoop in on the traffickers.
They were two, one draped in a Gucci sun glass and a Dolce and Gabbana top to match. The other was in a blue black tuxedo as they entered the guest house. The undercover reporter with his compatriot signaled for one of the girls to draw closer to them, only for her boss to appear, grab a seat, and start a long conversation on the quality of services his ladies could offer us.
“The one you just signaled is tired after a long work last night. We had some Indians-about seven of them so she was at their service but there are some fresh ones I know Americans love so much. You only part away with a hundred dollars per hour and they are yours. Whether you want to have them here or take them to a different location is for you to decide”, His name was Se Hui: he owned the life of these girls.
Apparently to discourage us from taking his ladies out of the guest house, Se Hui decided to introduce our reporter to the rooms that were available for use and assured us that we were always welcomed to use the guest house.
In the room for short hours, there are no air conditioners. The bedspread is neatly washed and spread on the bed to make it very attractive to the eye. Se Hui's reason for not fixing air conditioners in the room for shorter periods was that GHC250 an hour is an amount too meager for him to waste his time decorating such rooms for usage.
The trafficker assured our reporter that “our girls are active, if it's about getting sexually satisfied, be rest assured, they can withstand every weather”.
Convinced by the trafficker's impeccable description of what his girls could do, our undercover reporter paid for an hour's services of one girl, sent her to his room in another hotel (name withheld). His compatriot also paid for the services of one girl. Surprisingly, minutes after they entered the room, the girl strip-teased and moved about in the room ready to satisfy him sexually.
It was after she had finished bathing and was advancing towards our reporter naked, ready and willing to satisfy him sexually that he alerted the police who were already on stand-by to swoop in on them.
The police arrested the two girls paving the way for the team which was on stand-by to go to the Jang Mi Guest House, where the other girls were being kept .
The Raid At Jang Mi Guest House
It was now time to look for the other girls. Our reporter quickly changed his attire to a white gown with a mask on his face and led the operation to show the police where the rest of the girls were hiding.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service ably led by Supt. Patience Quaye and the Western regional superintendent of the unit ASP Obeng Dickson and his men were also ready.
When the team got to the Jang Mi Guest House at Tadisco Down, a suburb of Sekondi Takoradi, which was a residential apartment, night club, office and brothel, the traffickers were seated in their office.
After some of the police arrested the traffickers, our reporter took the others to a backhouse where the rest of the girls were hiding. The girls did not resist arrest. They looked rather worried and confused about the turn of events.
The police found some passports, contraceptive pills, porn movies and some Indian hemp in the rooms. They also found a bag which contained some of the money that the traffickers had made off the girls for some period. They were taken to the Takoradi District Police Command, and transferred to Accra.
Meanwhile, Supt. Quaye, has hinted that charges will be proffered against the two suspects subsequent to which they would be arraigned before the courts. She assured us that they would spend jail term here in Ghana if found guilty.
The Dangerous Kingpin
There has been a long search undercover for the main kingpin but so far, no positive result has come out. However, our undercover investigator is in the wild- trailing on every lead to unmask the real kingpin behind the trafficking ring. The kingpin, according to our gathered intelligence is hiding at a secret hideout in Ghana and supplies trafficked girls to his agents within the West Africa sub-region. He is said to have done a lot of 'good business' and had made considerable wealth from exploiting vulnerable Asian girls. Our s¬¬ource has hinted that he lives a very comfortable life with his wife from the proceeds he gets from the girls he sells out. Our searchlight is still beaming in his neighbourhood and once we pick up signals backed by evidence, his cartel would be shattered into pieces once and for all.
The Law and the Enslaved Girls
In 2005, Parliament passed the Human Trafficking Act, Act 694 which was amended in 2009.
The Act seeks to prevent and reduce the occurrence of human trafficking. It defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, trading or receipt of persons within and across national borders by the use of threat, force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or exploitation of the vulnerable.
Persons who are trafficked are usually forced into degrading acts like prostitution, slavery, servitude etc
In Ghana, the penalty for a person who is successfully convicted of human trafficking is a term of imprisonment not less than 5 years.
According to the Act, all persons within the jurisdiction are under a duty to inform the authorities (i.e police the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice, the Department of Social Welfare the Legal Aid Board, or a reputable Civil Society Organisation) if they have any information concerning human trafficking in the country. Failure to do so is an offence and a person who is convicted is liable to a fine of not less than GHC 3,000 or a term of imprisonment of one year or to both.
This story is reminiscent of the 'Chinese Sex Mafia' story of 2009, where a restaurant; Peach Blossom Palace, in Accra was used as a brothel from where 19 Chinese girls had been trafficked by fellow nationals.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) the most common form of trafficking is sexual exploitation, with the victims predominantly being women and girls.
According to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OE CD) the commercial sex exploitation industry and trafficking in general is one of the highest grossing illegal industries along with the arms trade and illicit drugs.
The victims of trafficking in persons predominantly belong to Africa, Eastern Europe and Asian nationalities. Ghana has been identified as a country of origin, transit and destination for people subjected to trafficking.
Stay tuned for the second part of this story which will give a blow-by blow account of the money trail on the activities of these traffickers.
Story by Anas Aremeyaw Anas From Takoradi