Sanlong Street, Shulin district, New Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps

A human-trafficking syndicate that targeted migrant workers and forced them into labor and sex was busted on Sunday by Taiwanese authorities, with 10 men and 30 women rescued and five suspects, including the mastermind, arrested during a special operation in New Taipei City.

In April, the National Immigration Agency first received a report of Taiwanese man Chen Jian-zhi, 57, the owner of a foreign-worker employment agency in Shulin district of New Taipei City, allegedly trafficking migrant workers with four associates, The Liberty Times reported on Tuesday, citing police sources.

Chen allegedly recruited workers who were in financial difficulties or with visa problems and sent them to medical institutions to work as private caregivers for NT$1,800 (US$59) a day, of which one-third would be held back as referral fees.

Six floors of a building on Sanlong Street were subdivided into 60 tiny units for the accommodation of the workers, who had to pay between NT$5,000 and $10,000 for the privilege of living in these cramped quarters.

According to Taiwan Apple Daily, some female workers told the police that they were fed “ice”, a form of amphetamine, and forced into sex with Chen after they got caught attempting to run away.

More than 50 grams of amphetamine, drug apparatus, account books and bank passbooks were seized from Chen, who was denied bail, while the four other suspects were granted bail of between NT$30,000 and  $50,000 pending court hearings.