Members of a gang which trafficked 19 women into prostitution at hotels across southern England and Wales have been convicted of their part in the operation.
The women, from south-east Asia, advertised their services on a range of adult websites. Phone numbers given in the adverts, if dialled, would go through to a member of the gang who would then make contact with the woman in question. Almost 400 bookings were made at hotels between August 2013 and March 2015, mainly along the south coast, at locations as far afield as Gatwick, Exeter and Cardiff.
The room reservations were made using false details. Customers would pay for services on arrival at the hotel in cash which would then be paid into accounts controlled by members of the gang. In total, the operation generated hundreds of thousands of pounds, with credits of more than £88,000 paid into one bank account and more than £66,000 into another.
Mobile phones seized from the defendants and sex workers showed hotel bookings, along with messages about the arrival of the women, their work, contact with clients and payment details.
Three defendants, all from south-east Asia, were convicted of multiple offences yesterday (5 October) following a trial at the Old Bailey in London.
Kevin Thomson, from the CPS, said:
“This was an organised operation designed to traffic women into prostitution, as shown by the variety of bank accounts used to run it and the sheer amount of funds it generated. These elements helped to provide compelling evidence of what these defendants were doing.
“The gang exploited vulnerable women, putting them to work in situations which exposed them to serious potential risks. Once the women were caught up in the prostitution ring, it was invariably almost impossible for them to escape the life they had been forced into.
“All the time, they were then earning what turned out to be huge sums of money for the defendants, who were responsible for running the operation without any regard for the women’s wellbeing.”
Notes to Editors
- The hotels used were located in Brighton, Gatwick, Bournemouth, Exeter, Maidstone, Kingston-Upon-Thames, Guildford, Cardiff, Windsor, Heathrow, Woking and Eastbourne.
- Kevin Thomson is a lawyer with the CPS South East Complex Casework Unit.
- The members of the gang convicted were:
- Hong Chin, 45, conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, conspiracy to traffic for sexual exploitation, possessing criminal property, using criminal property
- Li Wei Gao, 44, – conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, conspiracy to traffic for sexual exploitation, possessing criminal property
- Ting Li Lu, 47, – conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, conspiracy to traffic for sexual exploitation, possessing criminal property
- They will be sentenced on 26 October.