TWIN brothers who came from India to work as pimps for a vice syndicate in Geylang looked on in shock as they were each jailed for 3 1/2 months yesterday.
Raman and Lakashmanan Selvaraj, 26, had been hoping for a fine after they pleaded guilty on June 3 to managing a brothel and helping their accomplices live on the earnings of prostitution.
Lakashmanan arrived here last October and was met by Balamurugan Selvam Paneer, 32, who ran a vice business here which exploited women from India.
Lakashmanan was soon buying meals for the prostitutes and collecting their earnings. These were handed to Balamurugan, who would deduct expenses, and remit the rest to the syndicate boss in India.
Every night the brothers would station themselves at Lorong 16 Geylang. If they spotted police, they would warn their sex workers, who would then hide in their hotel rooms until it was safe to solicit again.
On Dec 17, police and officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority arrested the twins and three accomplices in a surprise raid.
Investigations revealed that they had been managing six prostitutes, who earned only around 30,000 rupees (S$644) for two months of work.
One of them initially came here to work as a house maid before her agent, known only as Mani, told her to be a prostitute instead. She agreed as she owed money to Mani and was afraid of him.
The woman went back to India on Dec 22, 2011, but Mani forced her to return to Singapore regularly to work as a prostitute, by threatening to shame her in her village if she refused.
She would walk the streets from 6pm to 5am, charging $28 for a short-time tryst and $70 for an hour of sex.
Court papers state that she earned $16,000 for the syndicate between Oct 20 and Dec 17. The women cannot be named by order of the court.
Asking the court to impose only a fine, defence counsel S.K. Kumar said that the twins' parents had sold their land so as to raise money to bring their sons home.
"The family is very poor and the parents are now living in makeshift accommodation by the roadside," said the lawyer.
In passing sentence, District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim pointed out that two other syndicate members, who worked in the same capacity as the twins, had been jailed for 3 1/2 months in February.
That same month, Balamurugan was jailed for five months.
The penalty for abetting someone to live on the earnings of prostitution is a fine of up to $10,000, a jail term of up to five years, or both. For running a brothel, they could have been fined up to $3,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.