Gang that ran NW brothel not ‘Triads’

A TEACHER and former policeman claims a Department of Justice (DOJ) report that a prostitution ring based around brothels in Londonderry and Belfast was run by the “Chinese mafia” was incorrect, the Sentinel can reveal.

Jack Dees, a lecturer at the University of West London, claimed terms like “Chinese mafia,” quoted by the Sentinel last year from a Department of Justice (DOJ) vice report were unhelpful.

He also said the use of the term “Triad” - used by this newspaper as well as in Equality Commission reports, by MLAs and numerous other sources - was also incorrect.

The former Northumbria police officer made the claim in a paper delivered to the British Criminology Conference last year.

In April the Sentinel reported that police believed Triads had been forcing women into sex slavery in Londonderry under threat of extreme violence.

The report said the women were tricked into coming to Northern Ireland to “carry out cleaning and nannying jobs but were forced into prostitution through extreme violence” by Triad gangs in Londonderry and Belfast.

The paper quoted from a DOJ research paper that referred to Operation Sleek in May 2009 when the PSNI rescued six women from sex slavery - five from South Belfast and one from Londonderry.

It was stated: “The PSNI believed that this prostitution ring was run by the Chinese Mafia and that all of the rescued women were Chinese. They were tricked to come to Northern Ireland from England under the premise that they would be carrying out cleaning or nannying jobs.

“They were then forced into prostitution through extreme violence.”

But in Mr Dees’ paper on Chinese organised crime in the UK ‘Claws of the dragon’ he says the blanket use of Triad or Chinese mafia to describe Chinese organised crime is unhelpful.

He argued Triads should only be used to refer to gangs who originated in Hong Kong, and their related organisations, the Tongs, in the United States. Only in recent years groups from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have come to prominence.

Mr Dees singles the Sentinel out for attention stating: “Understandably, a number of less sophisticated sources, particularly the media, incorrectly use the term ‘Triad’ whenever Chinese organised crime is encountered.

“For example an article in the local newspaper, the Londonderry Sentinel (24 April 2012), used the terms ‘Triad’ and ‘Chinese mafia’ and also ‘Chinese ‘snakehead’ gangs - a branch of the notorious Triad organised crime group.’”

He adds: “This labelling is inaccurate and unhelpful.”

He refers to our report of last April in which we reported how the DOJ said PSNI believed that “one prostitution ring was run by the Chinese mafia and that all of the rescued women were Chinese.”

Chinese ‘snakehead’ gangs - a branch of the notorious Triad organised crime group - are said to have been involved in smuggling prostitutes through Stranraer to destinations including Belfast and Londonderry.

Mr Dees stated: “The activities of ‘snakehead’ groups that facilitate illegal migration have also been the subject of much debate, particularly by US law enforcement who feared massive illegal immigration organised by and therefore profiting established OC groups.”