Belgian police detain 25 in Chinese sex worker trafficking inquiry

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgian police raided 26 addresses across the country and detained 25 people on Tuesday as part of an investigation into a gang suspected of trafficking women from China to become sex workers.

Federal prosecutors said the number of Chinese sex workers in Belgium had risen in recent years, notably in Brussels. They believe a criminal organisation brought Chinese women to Europe and forced them to become prostitutes.

Similar raids were also carried out in Barcelona and Alicante in Spain. Belgian investigators want one suspect detained there to be extradited to Belgium.

Prosecutors said the women, displayed online, are frequently moved across locations in Europe and have a large proportion of their money taken from them.

In most cases, they do not have legal residence status, making them more dependent on the gang.

Prosecutors said that they had taken in more than 20 victims, all of them of Chinese origin. Of those detained, 22 were of Chinese origin and three are Belgians.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Marine Strauss and Barbara Lewis)