Hong Kong Sex Workers Attacking Foreign Businessmen

Forty-four mostly foreign businessmen have reported being drugged and robbed by sex workers in a Hong Kong red-light district over the last three years, police said this week.

Police are continuing to investigate the possible poisoning deaths of two Americans at the Grand Hyatt hotel, also in the red-light Wan Chai district, over a week ago. Reports said the two men, identified only as Paul, 45, and Richard, 51, had been to a night club before returning to their room with two women.

The men's slumped bodies were discovered the next day by cleaning staff.

Police have yet to say what caused the men's deaths, although they have not ruled out that they were drugged. The Standard newspaper reported that a mixture of cocaine and heroin was found in their blood, but police have refused to comment, saying toxicology tests were continuing.

A Filipino women arrested shortly after the bodies were found has been released, but will appear in court on charges of violating her visa by moonlighting as a prostitute, a police spokesman said.

Police said Sunday that at least 44 men had reported incidents of drugging and robbery over the last three years in Wan Chai, where many nightclubs are easy places to meet Filipino, Indonesian and mainland Chinese prostitutes.

Some victims couldn't remember much and only made reports days or weeks after the event when they received their bank statements and found unexplained withdrawals from cash machines, a police spokeswoman said.

Other victims discovered cash and other valuables missing when they awoke in their hotel room, she said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Police were aware of the problem and of the possibility that some type of date-rape drug may have been used, she said.

She said police were giving crime prevention advice to bars and hotels in the area and working with the immigration department.

In one of the most high-profile cases, a senior Finnish policeman, Kari Juhani Koivuniemi, died of a heart attack in a luxury hotel after being given the drug Rohypnol in 2003. A woman thought to have been a mainland Chinese prostitute was suspected of giving him the drug, but she was never found.

Wan Chai was once one of Hong Kong's most notorious districts for sex and drugs, but has undergone a makeover in recent years. It remains a popular place for U.S. sailors, tourists and overseas businessmen.

Although prostitution is legal in Hong Kong, many of the women are either illegal immigrants from mainland China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, or moonlighting from their day jobs.

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