Tuesday 23 May 2017

Sex traffickers sentenced for exploitation of over 250 women in 'sophisticated' operation

Some were forced into prostitution against their will
Some were forced into prostitution against their will

Tom Wilkinson

People traffickers who smuggled at least 250 sex workers into the country in what the Crown Prosecution Service said was a "sophisticated" operation have been sentenced.

The Metropolitan Police, Hungarian authorities and the CPS held a joint operation to catch the gang, who were arrested a year ago.

They brought women to the UK to be sexually exploited, working out of 50 addresses in London and Peterborough.

Some were forced into prostitution against their will and were forced to hand over up to half of their money.

Eleven defendants have now been sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court, the CPS said.

Afterwards, CPS London Chief Crown Prosecutor Baljit Ubhey said: "This sophisticated and commercial-scale operation is one of the largest ever prosecuted by CPS London.

"It involved the trafficking of at least 250 sex workers from Hungary for the purposes of sexual exploitation to be controlled in prostitution and 50 brothel addresses in both London and Peterborough."

The senior lawyer said the investigation took two years.

She added: "This enabled us to build the strongest possible case to put before the court, leading seven of those involved to plead guilty owing to the weight of evidence against them.

"While in many cases the women were voluntarily working in prostitution, they were trafficked here to be exploited and controlled, with the women having to give up to half of their earnings for the privilege of working in a house or brothel run by the defendants.

"One of the girls was trafficked against her will and raped by one of the individuals sentenced today and I would like to applaud her courage in reporting this to the police and giving evidence during the trial.

"I hope this prosecution provides some comfort to her and the other victims these individuals preyed on.

"I hope this case demonstrates our commitment to working with partners both in the UK and overseas in tackling organised crime involving trafficking and sexual exploitation.

"I would also like to extend my thanks to the Hungarian authorities for their invaluable assistance in this case."

One of the defendants, Zsolt Blaga, 38, was jailed for 14 years for trafficking offences and two rape offences.

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