Nine people have been arrested following a UK Border Agency-led operation targeting a crime gang suspected of trafficking sex workers around Britain, the agency announced this week.
In one of the biggest operations of its kind ever undertaken in the UK, around 150 officers from the UK Border Agency and eight different police forces carried out simultaneous raids on 13 different addresses around the South and East of England.
Three men aged 52, 38 and 34 and a woman aged 35 were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to control prostitution for gain, trafficking and money laundering offences.
In addition four men and a woman, all believed to be Chinese nationals, were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the management of a brothel. All nine are now being questioned by our investigators.
Five suspected sex workers were discovered at the addresses. They are now being cared for and assessed at a specialist centre in the south east of England.
Three people, all Chinese nationals, were detained for immigration offences.
Suspected brothel premises in the Surrey, Berkshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Essex areas were among those raided. In addition, residential or business addresses in south west London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were targeted.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said:
‘As today’s raids show, we are working with the police and other law enforcement agencies to tackle the organised criminals who abuse the immigration system.
‘This summer we are targeting our efforts on breaking up the organised gangs who trade in human beings and are behind visa scams.
‘The message is clear – the UK is no longer a safe haven for immigration offenders and human traffickers.’
Sam Bullimore, assistant director, criminal and financial Investigation team., said:
‘This is one of the biggest operations ever undertaken by the UK Border Agency, targeting what we believe is a significant organised crime group responsible for the supply of sex workers around the south east.
‘It is the result of an extensive and lengthy investigation involving the UK Border Agency and a number of police forces. That investigation continues with the evidence that we have seized today.’
In addition to UK Border Agency investigators and staff, officers from the Thames Valley, Cambridgeshire, Metropolitan, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey, Hampshire and Essex Police forces were involved in the operation.
UPDATE 24 June 2011: A tenth person has been arrested in connection with the investigation into the trafficking of sex workers around Britain.
The 37-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to control prostitution for gain, trafficking and money laundering offences at an address in Chessington, south west London late on the 23 June. Source: UK Border Agency.
Illegal immigration and trafficking is one of the UK Border Agency’s biggest problems. Since the EU expansion into Eastern Europe Britain’s borders have become extremely difficult to police.
Apart from the estimated 700,000 illegal migrants already in the country, immigration flows have hit their highest level for six years with numbers increasing from Eastern Europe, even from Bulgaria and Romania despite restrictions on working in the UK.
There is much confusion surrounding the whole area of Bulgarian and Romanian rights to work and study in the UK.
Migrants, employers and even advisers at Job Centres and help lines are not always clear about whether or not Bulgarian and Romanian nationals can work in the UK and what documents are required.
Despite the fact that they are EU members, when it comes to employment Bulgarian and Romanian citizens do not have the same rights as other Europeans, for instance from Poland, Slovakia or other A8 Accession countries.
If you need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email:
Looking for a college or University?