DUBAI Dubai police have arrested 170 suspected prostitutes from East Asia in the biggest crackdown on sex networks in the Gulf Arab emirate, newspapers reported on Wednesday.
The police also arrested 12 suspected pimps and 65 people seeking to buy sexual services, when they stormed 22 covert brothels in a synchronized raid on Saturday, Gulf News reported police chief Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim as saying.
"Dubai Police have many crackdowns on prostitution which are not announced in the media. However, it is important in the light of the activities being carried out by these networks to show there are crackdowns," it quoted bin Tamim as saying.
Bin Tamim said the move came after the United Arab Emirates -- a seven-member federation including oil exporter Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a regional tourism and trade hub -- passed a law to combat human trafficking.
"We started following up these networks and cases have been referred to the public prosecution, but this is the biggest case," he said, urging women "duped into working for such networks" to contact the police.
The UAE enacted a law in November making human trafficking punishable by life imprisonment, and has set up a state body to combat trafficking.
Foreign workers and expatriates make up over 80 percent of the 4 million population of the UAE.
The United States has criticized four Gulf Arab allies, including the UAE, as some of the world's worst offenders in permitting human trafficking.