Couple deported from New Zealand after husband caught running illegal sex ring

A man was caught running a '<a class=prostitution business’, where Brazilian women were illegally brought to New Zealand to work in the sex industry. (File photo)” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

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A man was caught running a ‘prostitution business’, where Brazilian women were illegally brought to New Zealand to work in the sex industry. (File photo)

A married couple have been deported from New Zealand after the husband was caught profiting from illegal sex work.

The couple, from Brazil, have been in New Zealand since 2016 and had two children – a 3-year-old son and a baby girl – while living here.

The 32-year-old husband held a series of work visas as a plasterer, according to a decision from the Immigration and Protection Tribunal which has just been published.

However, his latest visa application was refused after Immigration New Zealand received reports that he “appeared to be part of a prostitution ring”.

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This involved “bringing Brazilian nationals to New Zealand and allowing them to work in the sex industry”, the ruling says.

Under the Prostitution Reform Act, temporary visa holders are not allowed to work in the sex industry or operate or invest in a “prostitution business”.

These restrictions were put in place in an attempt to combat sex trafficking. However, sex industry advocates have criticized the policy, saying migrant sex workers are vulnerable to abuse and cannot turn to authorities for help for fear of deportation.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/STUFF

Outreach worker Sue Merrett and sex worker Phoenix talk about life in Christchurch’s red-light district. (Video first published in July 2020)

Immigration New Zealand said the husband’s business dealings came to light during an investigation into a New Zealand-Brazilian prostitution ring.

He said Brazilian women were being brought to New Zealand without visas to work illegally in the sex industry.

Bank statements and WhatsApp messages seized by Immigration New Zealand showed the husband telling the women to deposit money into his bank account and the women carrying out those instructions.

Immigration New Zealand said the husband ran a prostitution business and issued him a deportation liability notice.

The couple appealed, saying the allegations against the husband were unfounded and false.

WhatsApp messages between the Brazilian man and the sex workers showed him ordering them to deposit money into his bank account.  (File photo)

Patrick Sison/AP

WhatsApp messages between the Brazilian man and the sex workers showed him ordering them to deposit money into his bank account. (File photo)

Instead, their lawyer said the payments went to the wife, who worked as an administrator or secretary for the women on an ad hoc basis.

The couple argued that their children were “effectively Kiwis in all their status except citizenship” and would not receive a good education if deported.

Violent crime in Brazil was out of control and they feared it would return, they said.

However, the court rejected the couple’s arguments, saying the evidence established that the husband had received income from sex work. While the couple had a joint bank account, the sex workers listed her name when transferring the money.

The level of crime in Brazil was “concerning” but there was no evidence the couple were at “real risk” of being targeted, he said.

The court dismissed the appeal, but granted the couple work visas for three months so they could afford to pay for their return flights.

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