Sex trafficking brings record number of anonymous tips

A record number of tips related to sex trafficking were called into the Meld Misdaad Anoniem, an anonymous crime watch hotline, with nearly two-thirds of the calls playing a substantial role in criminal investigations. Between June 2014 and this past April, operators received 297 reports of coercion, forced prostitution, exploitation, and prostitution in unlicensed locations, with 33 cases possibly involving child victims.

While 46 percent of all calls had a direct connection to the first three categories, there was overlap with tips tied to claims of prostitution in an unlicensed facility. There were 207 reports about the latter, including situations where prostitution took place above a bar, where the women often slept in the work environment and not once left the location.

The total amount of calls received marks a 34 percent increase over the previous year, the hotline said. At least 22 suspects linked to anonymous tips were arrested in the Amsterdam or Den Haag regions.

“We are concerned with the human traffickers, who put heavy pressure on the prostitutes,” said campaign leader Annemarie van der Burg. Criminals often trick Eastern European women, claiming they accumulated large debts, and moving them around from club to club as prostitutes. Similar scenarios befall female workers in Chinese massage parlors, who are forced to offer sex over long work hours, and are not allowed to keep control of their own passports.

Some of the calls received also gave police information about money laundering, international financial transactions, drug trafficking and weapons possession.