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Italy: Operation Dragon rounds up Chinese prostitution ring

last update: July 04, 12:56

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Prato, 4 July (AKI) - Dozens of Chinese immigrants were arrested and thousands searched Wednesday throughout Italy on suspicion of myriad crimes including the exploitation of women for prostitution.

Centred in the Tuscan city of Prato with arrests and checks in other parts of Italy, Operation Dragon seized 85 apartments believed to be used in the Chinese prostitution ring including massage centres investigators say were used as brothels.

Police made 50 arrests and ran checks another 2,750 suspects.

Customers were attracted by the use of call centres and announcements in local newspapers.

With a registered population of about 12,000, out of the city's total population of 210,00, Prato's has Italy's second-largest Chinese population after Milan. It has has the largest concentration of Chinese people in Italy, and as well as the whole continent of Europe.

Most of the prostitutes came to Italy from the southeast Chinese province of Zhejiang. They generally arrived in Italy legally but remained after the expiration of their visas.

Other crimes included the manufacturing of counterfeit clothing, illegal gambling and favouring illegal immigration.

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