Migration agents helping to run illegal prostitution rackets

Over six migration agents have worked with mostly Asian syndicates running prostitution rackets in Melbourne and Sydney, according to a report published in 'The Age' today.

One of the agents allegedly involved in the sex industry in Melbourne was helping to find Asian women, including those on student visas, to work as prostitutes.

The report said that one of the Melbourne resident who was aware of the rogue agents had complained to the local police in November last year.

"The constable I complained seemed to be ignorant of the laws around prostitution and ultimately did nothing about it," the complainant said.

The newspaper said through its own probe it found that under-age women were working in illegal brothels in Melbourne's inner east.

Australian Federal Police is probing people linked to two state-licensed brothels as part of a human trafficking inquiry that has already led to the charging of a woman for allegedly forcing Chinese students to work as prostitutes.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the force was "actively looking at illegal brothels, particularly in relation to links with organised crime and human trafficking".

"We will always act on reports of under-age workers or other illegal activities [this has included targeting street prostitution in St Kilda  recently]," she said adding, "We have had very preliminary discussions with the government to date and look forward to having further discussions".

Migration agents are registered by the federal government and have powers to help people get visas and deal with the Immigration Department.

The agents are meant to be governed by a strict code of conduct.

Under the existing system, the regulation of the legal and illegal sex industry is handled by local councils, state police, Consumer Affairs and the Department of Justice.

Federal agencies are responsible for investigating human trafficking, tax or immigration offences.

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