Mumbai

Chatting apps boost networking among flesh trade racket operators

The advent of online mobile chatting apps has helped operators of flesh trade rackets network with their counterparts, with pimps from all over the country now being part of common WhatsApp groups, police officers said on Saturday.

Since January 3, the Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) of the Mumbai Police has busted five flesh trade rackets in the city with links to at least three other cities. “In most of these rackets, those arrested in Mumbai are only the footsoldiers who deliver the women to the client and collect the money. The main accused in at least three of the five rackets are based in New Delhi, while two other cases were linked to Pune and Ahmedabad,” an AHTU officer said.

In its most recent operation, conducted on Thursday, the AHTU arrested Aditya Chawda (20), an Ahmedabad native who would allegedly accept orders from clients in Mumbai and relay them to two women pimps in Kandivali.

‘No risk of arrest’

“All communication would happen on a WhatsApp group, where pictures and details of the victims would be shared. Once the client had taken his pick from the profiles sent to him, a price would be finalised. Mr. Chawda would take care of everything without being exposed to any risk of being arrested, as he would not be in the city,” the officer said.

In a racket busted in Andheri on January 22, the unit had rescued two women from Turkmenistan who were brought from Pune for a client — a dummy customer working at the behest of the police.

Further investigation into the five cases has indicated that a large network of pimps in the country is in touch with each other through mobile chatting apps, sources said.

“Not just for internal communication between their own syndicate, pimps also use chatting apps to stay in touch with their counterparts based in other locations. This is for various purposes, like putting a regular client in touch with another pimp, exchanging information about latest developments in their line of work, and precautions based on latest methods employed by law enforcement agencies,” another officer said.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 11:05:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/chatting-apps-boost-networking-among-flesh-trade-racket-operators/article30655116.ece

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