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October 28, 2009

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A case of transvestites, doped-chocolate sex heists

FIVE transvestite prostitutes from the Philippines who allegedly lured expatriate men from bars with the promise of sex and then drugged and robbed them went on trial in Shanghai yesterday.

Prosecutors said the men stole property valued at more than 150,000 yuan (US$21,961) from three victims from December 2008 to February 2009 after plying them with chocolates laced with sedatives.

When the defendants appeared yesterday in Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, some were dressed in feminine attire. They referred to each other as "she," but they told the judges they were male.

All the defendants except for the alleged leader of the group, Rizal Delacruz, pleaded guilty.

The other defendants said Delacruz, 30, created the robbery scam and forged the victims' signatures while shopping with the stolen credit cards. Delacruz denied the allegations, saying he didn't know the cards were stolen. He said the gang members told him the cards belonged to their boyfriends.

A verdict was not announced after the one-day hearing. The punishment for robbery ranges from three years to death, depending on what happened to the victims and the value of the stolen goods.

The five Filipinos came to Shanghai early last year to make money from sexual services, the court heard.

Marc Garcia, 29, one of the suspects, told the court he worked as a prostitute in Japan. He came to the city in February 2008 after a friend told him it was easy to find a job here. But when he failed to get legitimate work he went back to the sex trade.

After learning Garcia sometimes took sedatives for his sleeping difficulties, Delacruz suggested mixing the medicine and slipping it to foreigners so they could be robbed after passing out.

The other defendants - Randell Dabalus, Roman Cristobal and Erecson Malaque - agreed to the scheme, according to testimony.

"Delacruz said it was easy to imitate people's signatures and buy things with their credit cards," Garcia said at the hearing.

"I handed the stolen credit cards to him every time, and he also kept the gold we bought with the credit cards."

One of the heists occurred on December 10, 2008, when Garcia and Dabalus met a victim in a bar on Tongren Road and went with him to a hotel. In the taxi, they lured the victim into eating the doctored chocolate, the court heard. When the victim fell asleep, they took three credit cards and a Rolex watch. They then bought goods worth US$11,602 with the cards and pawned the watch, prosecutors said.

The other two robberies occurred on February 19 and February 28 this year. The gang bought perfume, gold and clothes with the stolen credit cards, prosecutors said.

Garcia was caught on March 2 when shopping at a cosmetics store. He later led police to the other gang members.


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