Four women have been rescued from what police allege is a sex slave ring operating in suburban Brisbane, where they were drugged, tattooed as ‘property’, and prostituted.
Police say the man, aged 35, allegedly used stupefying drugs to manipulate the women into being sex slaves, as well as tattooing them as and controlling their finances.
The pair were arrested during a search of two properties, one in South Brisbane and the other in Mount Gravatt East. Illegal recordings of sexual acts (some with underaged girls) and drugs were also allegedly found on the property, as well as evidence to suggest an illegal prostitution operation.
The four women, aged 17-24, are suspected to have been recruited via social media. They were allegedly found on the Mount Gravatt property, however, police believe that there are other alleged victims who are yet to be located.
“We have been shocked by this,” Officer-in-Charge of the Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce Juliet Hancock said.
“This investigation has been confronting when you consider those aspects, vulnerable young women being recruited, being drugged, being prostituted and being tattooed, that’s pretty confronting.
“We did not understand that this was happening in Australia, let alone Brisbane.”
The man has been charged with conducting a business involving servitude, possessing covert recordings, possession of drugs, unlawful prostitution, and six other charges. Meanwhile, the woman has only been charged with unlawful prostitution and two other charges.
Hancock said that police began investigating the matter as early as October 2020, after several calls from the public.
“The women are now safe thanks to the information from members of the public and the diligence of our officers,” Hancock said.
“It would be, I think, fair to say that some of them do not understand they have been exploited.
“A couple of them yesterday were definitely very heavily under the influence of drugs. I don’t think they understood yesterday when I was speaking to them.”
Investigations are currently continuing, and the pair are expected to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court later today.
“I’ve been a police officer for 30 years. I’ve not seen this type of offending before,” Hancock said.
“We believe there are other victims who have been exploited by the man and I encourage them to come forward and contact police.”