CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY?A cyber sex den using high-end computer technology was busted here Thursday by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation, authorities said Monday.
Two Swedish nationals and three other Filipinos were arrested when NBI agents raided the three-story building in a middle class subdivision in Barangay Kauswagan here where girls were found naked while video chatting with foreign clients.
Top-of-the-line computers, web cameras, a satellite dish and a powerful cable antenna were seized along with a whole gallery of sex toys and gadgets.
?This is the first time that a cyber sex den like this had been busted in Mindanao. Based on our initial investigation, we believe this is a big time operation because they were using high-tech equipment and most of their clientele are foreign nationals,? said Atty. Jaime Justo Yap, NBI regional director.
Eighteen girls aged 19-25 were rescued from the den and had been taken to a counseling facility of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Swedish nationals Emil Andreas Solemo, 33, and Bo Stefan Sederholm, 29, alleged owners of the cyber sex den, had been formally charged by the NBI for violation of RA 9208 or the Anti-Human trafficking law, which is a no-bail offense leading to up to 20 years imprisonment.
The building owner, Diosdada Mabelin , and two other Filipinos were charged with the same crime.
The INQUIRER learned that Solemo and Sederholm were taken out from jail by the city warden and are now staying in an air-conditioned room in a nearby hospital on Monday for still unknown reasons.
Yap said the Swedish nationals have exercised their rights and refused to give a statement to the NBI regarding their operations.
He also said Solemo and Sederholm might be allowed to stay in a hospital ?if they needed medical attention.?
The Swedish Embassy in Manila has already called the NBI and local police here to check on the condition of their two nationals.
?They may also be checking on the two suspects for the possibility of filing separate charges against them in Sweden,? said Yap.
The girls who were rescued from the cyber sex den came from different parts of the country, some from as far as Cagayan Valley, according to Atty. Cheme Nacua, NBI case officer.
Nacua said the girls had been promised work abroad but were instead used as cyber-prostitutes and were virtually locked up in a shelter.
?A girl was able to escape last month. The information she gave helped us get to the shelter and the den to rescue the others,? said Nacua.
?Some girls said they were told that they will be working for an Internet café in Singapore. It was at the airport when they were told that they needed to go through practical training first and were instead given airline tickets to Cagayan de Oro,? added Nacua.
Nacua said some of the girls have chosen to continue with the job because of poverty while some stayed out of fear.
In separate statements to the NBI, the girls said they were given P15,000 as salary every month but that they pay for their lodging and food.
Yap said the cyber sex den has been operating in Cagayan de Oro since July last year.
?Nakita siguro nila na masyado nang mainit sa Angeles City [Pampanga] kung saan maraming ganitong operation kaya lumipat na sila sa malalayong lugar kagaya ng Cagayan de Oro,? said Yap. (They [cyber sex operators] may have found it hard to continue operating in Angeles City and opted to bring their operation in a far away city like Cagayan de Oro).
The cyber sex den in Kauswagan is believed to be one of the biggest in Mindanao, with 24-hour operation and a regular clientele from different countries around the globe.
Video-chatting with a girl costs $1.99 per minute, authorities said.
Before giving access to the service, the client is asked to make a payment through his credit card depending on how long he would like to view the girl. The client can then ask a girl to do everything he wants including lurid acts in front of a web camera.