Hong Kong raid on 'public toilet brothels'

Exterior of a mostly-deserted shopping mall in Hong Kong's Yuen Long district, 17 Jan 2014, where a group of secret brothels run by a triad gang were raided by the police. Image copyright Martin CS Yip
Image caption The mostly-deserted shopping mall, which housed the brothels, was spread over several floors of a building in Yuen Long

Hong Kong police have raided triad gang-run brothels operating out of converted public toilets in an unused shopping mall, reports say.

Dozens were held at a building in the Yuen Long area. They face charges including keeping a vice establishment and membership of a triad society.

Many of the women held are thought to be from mainland China.

Prostitution is legal in Hong Kong but soliciting and living off a prostitute's earnings is not.

In a statement, Hong Kong police said they arrested 51 women and 35 men aged between 17 and 72. Drugs, knives and other illegal objects were seized during the raid.

Local media reports said that the brothels had been running for several months and that male and female toilets had been converted into 11 sq m (120 sq ft) cubicles used for sexual activity.

The raid was part of a broader operation targeting criminal activity by triad syndicates in Hong Kong.

A shopkeeper in the area, who did not wish to be identified, told Martin Yip from BBC Chinese that the first and second floor of the small shopping mall had long been deserted.

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