Owners of 11 Thai massage parlours suspected of human trafficking

Police in the southern Finnish city of Lahti have uncovered what they believe to be an extensive case of human trafficking. Measured by the number of alleged victims, the case would be the most extensive in Finnish history.

Up to ten women working in a number of Thai massage parlours and private apartments in Lahti may have been victims of trafficking in humans.
     
The suspects in the case are a Finnish-Thai couple – a 47-year-old Finnish man and a 42-year-old Thai woman, who are under suspicion of aggravated procurement and human trafficking.
     
The couple own 11 Thai massage parlours and two apartments. Police say that they all have been used for the selling of sex services in the past two years.
     
About 30 police officers conducted simultaneous raids on all 13 locations on Tuesday. The Thai massage parlours, which are listed as being owned by the Thai woman, are located mainly in the centre of Lahti. The website of the company claims to offer massage, infrared saunas, and striptease.
     
Some of the locations have been opened daily from 7:00 AM to midnight.
     
Police did not disclose exactly how many victims of the human trafficking there were, saying that they number between five and ten. The possible victims are all foreigners.
     
The police said that they had been collecting information about the activities of the couple “for a long time” before the Tuesday raid, but would not specify what the suspicion of human trafficking was based on.
     
Kimmo Karvinen, the lawyer representing the Finnish man, told Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that his client denies any criminal activity. Mikko Kytöniemi, the lawyer for the Thai woman suspect would not say how his client is reacting to the charges.
     
Both of the suspects were convicted of violent crimes last year and given suspended sentences.
     
The Finnish man was found guilty of assault and making an illegal threat. He hit a man I the head with his fist and threatened another one by pressing a blank gun which looked like a real weapon against his neck.
     
In 2003 he was given a restraining order for intimidating a former female friend.
     
Meanwhile, the Thai woman had a physical altercation with the man’s former girlfriend last year. Both women were convicted of assault.

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