Singaporean jailed for running vice racket

He and his Vietnamese wife ran big enterprise with 32 prostitutes and 10 other staff for 2 years

A Singaporean who, together with his Vietnamese wife, earned a tidy sum of $25,000 to $28,000 a month from vice was jailed for 33 months yesterday.

Quek Choon Leong, 34, and Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, 35, had operated a large-scale and sophisticated enterprise with 32 prostitutes and 10 other staff for two years until their arrest in July 2013.

Huynh was serving a 29-month jail sentence, having admitted to 34 of 103 vice-related charges last year, but was brought back to court to face nine charges for similar offences committed while she and her husband were out on bail for the earlier offences.

She pleaded guilty in April this year to three of the nine charges while Quek admitted to 33 of 97 charges, which were mainly for living on prostitution earnings and harbouring women for prostitution.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Zhou Yihong said Huynh first came to Singapore in 2005 and got to know Quek, a hawker. She began visiting regularly and living with Quek, at a lodging house in Tembeling Road.

In 2006, a housemate advised Huynh to source more Vietnamese women to rent out rooms to. She succeeded in securing tenants and would have five or six staying at her lodging house at any point in time.

Quek Choon Leong (left) was jailed for two years and nine months. His wife Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, who is serving a 29-month jail sentence, was brought back to court to face nine more charges.
Quek Choon Leong (left) was jailed for two years and nine months. His wife Huynh Thi Kieu Trang, who is serving a 29-month jail sentence, was brought back to court to face nine more charges. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Afew months later, Quek went to stay with friends in a condominium in Geylang while Huynh returned to Vietnam to give birth to their first child.

In Vietnam, she told acquaintances she would be able to rent them a place to stay in Singapore. A few did come after she had returned.

Around early 2010, Huynh got involved in another enterprise whereby she would meet women arriving at the airport, offer them a place to stay while they worked as hostesses, and collect money from them to remit to her contact in Vietnam.

After the couple were kicked out of the condo following a police raid, they rented two lodging houses in Geylang. Later, they began to hear from a lodger, a freelance prostitute, that she earned more from vice than as a hostess.

In early 2011, Huynh suggested to her husband that they propose that their tenants work as prostitutes under them. Quek initially disagreed but relented after his wife told him it was "trade practice" for prostitutes to hand over $10 per $70 to $80 earned from each customer.

To run the enterprise, the couple recruited several helpers, including two agents in Vietnam to procure attractive women. Each woman would pay Huynh $450 a month, raised to $600 in 2013, for lodging. They signed a tenancy agreement, with a set of "rules" imposed by the couple.

Huynh would arrange for the women to solicit customers in Geylang and hire lookouts for law enforcement officers so she could warn her workers.

On average, the couple had about 20 women working under them per month, and received prostitution earnings of $25,000 to $28,000.

Quek used part of the earnings to gamble at the Resorts World Sentosa casino, converting chips worth between $23,630 and $29,000 on three occasions in June and July 2013.

DPP Zhou said investigation showed that in October 2014, Quek rented a unit in Changi Road at $3,000 a month. They were on court bail at the time.

And some time before early August last year - weeks before she was jailed - Huynh again arranged for three Vietnamese women to come and work as prostitutes.

For that, she was given an additional 10 months' jail in April this year which will take effect after she finishes her current jail sentence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Singaporean jailed for running vice racket'. Print Edition | Subscribe