CEBU CITY - Since she was desperate for money to feed her family, 18-year-old Pia (real name withheld) was persuaded by her friends to work as a sex slave for an Australian national last year.
“She earned P10,000 per month,” said an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7.
She accepted the job because, anyway, she said she had lost her virginity to her former boyfriend, thus reported the agent, who requested anonymity.
Pia, a freshman college student, was among the 15 girls rescued by an NBI 7 team led by Supervising Agent Rey Villordon from a cybersex den allegedly operated by Drew Frederick Shobbrook, 46, in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City yesterday afternoon.
Villordon said there are four suspected minors among the rescued girls that were brought to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 for counseling. They are mostly residents of Cebu City.
“Foreigners should stop abusing our women,” he said.
The raid was based on the search warrant issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 9 Judge Alexander Acosta. A team from the International Justice Mission (IJM) also assisted the NBI.
Shobbrook will be charged for violating Republic Act 10364, or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.
Villordon said they conducted surveillance since last year, after they received information about the suspect’s illegal activity.
He said the suspect employed people to hire girls, aged 14 to 17.
Three former female employees also complained to the NBI about Shobbrook’s alleged online pornography site last month.
Pia claimed she performed lewd shows allegedly with Shobbrook in front of a computer mounted with camera.
But the foreigner denied the allegations. He said he is just operating an online audit firm, which does bookkeeping for clients from Australia.
“I’m very shocked,” said Shobbrook, who hails from Sydney, New South Wales. “I just want to give people jobs. I will never understand this arrest for I have done nothing wrong.”
He said he only has seven staff working in his office and none of them are minors. He claimed that the three complainants were his former employees, whom he fired after he caught them stealing some of his valuables.
At past 4 p.m. yesterday, Villordon said they arrested the suspect, while the latter was talking to his client over the telephone. He did not resist arrest.
Shobbrook allegedly housed his workers inside three apartment units, in which he mounted 12 surveillance cameras.
The owner of the apartment denied he knew about the suspect’s operation.
Seized from the suspect were seven laptops, four desktop computers, cameras, iPads, iPhones and other gadgets.
Most of the computers’ hard drives reportedly contain nude photos and sex videos, an agent said.
Meanwhile, Barangay Calamba Councilor Anna Lozano said she noticed that there were several teenagers who went in and out of Shobbrook’s apartment units last year. Her house stands beside the compound where the suspect’s apartment units are located.
“Saba kaayo sila (They were very noisy),” she said. “Nagduda na mi ato (That was the time we started to doubt him).”
Shobbrook said he had secured a permit to operate his business, which he started in 2011. He has a wife and child left in Australia.
“I have never been arrested in this country before,” he said. “My conscience is clear.” (Sun.Star Cebu)