Thursday 19 October 2017

Gardai raid over 100 suspected brothels in crackdown

Tom Brady, David Raleigh and Stephen Maguire

Gardai raided more than a hundred suspected brothels yesterday as part of the biggest crackdown on prostitution on the island.

Police officers in the North also visited over 20 addresses across six counties and searched a number of them.

A total of eight suspects were arrested in the joint operation.

The cross-border action lasted from dawn until midnight and was linked to Operation Quest, which focused specifically on organised prostitution, brothel-keeping and related offences, included money-laundering.

It also concentrated on shadowy figures suspected of being involved in human trafficking and luring women here with offers of jobs and then forcing them into prostitution.

The raids, spearheaded here by the garda's organised crime unit, targeted houses, apartments and hotels that were suspected of being used by prostitutes.

Gardai arrested three people, including a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s, who were both taken to Dundrum garda station for questioning under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

Another woman in her 20s was taken to Store Street garda station and can be held without charge for up to 24 hours.

The PSNI said last night they believed that 10 of the locations they had searched were being used for the purposes of prostitution.

Their searches resulted in five arrests, the rescue of three suspected victims of human trafficking, and the seizure of a significant haul of documentation as well as cash, mobile phones and computers.

Officers said the suspected victims had been taken to safe locations where they were being interviewed by specially trained officers and, where necessary, would be provided with a support scheme, funded by the Department of Justice.

Gardai stressed that the operation, which involved more than 200 officers, was geared towards uncovering the identity of those controlling the brothel-keeping and organising the sex trade rather than the women who were working for them.

Finances

A number of other national units were also involved, including the Criminal Assets Bureau, which took possession of seized paperwork and computer files.

These will now be examined to determine the finances of the organisers and establish how much of their assets had been acquired through criminal offences.

Officers from the Garda National Immigration Bureau were also involved in yesterday's operation to deal with the traffickers, as well as detectives from the fraud bureau and officers from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Additional searches were under way late last night as gardai entered the final phase of their operation.

In Limerick, where gardai raided more than 15 properties, gardai found women from the UK, Romania, Hungary and Brazil, who had been working as prostitutes in the city.

Irish Independent

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