Four members of a criminal gang who ran a network of brothels, including premises in Stanmore, have been sentenced to a combined total of 20 years in jail.
Three men and a woman were arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit after a series of search warrants were carried out in September last year.
The gang used women who had been trafficked to the area from a small district in Romania and then controlled their activities as prostitutes in order to make a profit.
The Met investigation, which was assisted by the Romanian Service for Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism, revealed Georgian Marinescu, Georgiana Marcovici, Stefanita Miron and Mihai Marin were involved in the running of eight brothels altogether, with other premises scattered in Watford and North London.
Following an eight-week trial at Wood Green Crown Court, the four defendants were all found guilty of one count of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain and one charge of conspiracy to transfer criminal property, between January 1, 2013 and September 19, 2017.
A total of 12 women gave evidence during the trial and they detailed how they were each forced to pay a large portion of their profits to the gang for the privilege of using the brothels and maintaining online advertising profiles.
Financial records revealed that more than £500,000 of transfers was made in connection with the criminal enterprise.
Marinescu, 25, who collected money from the girls, booked and paid for flights and then picked them up from the airport, was convicted of conspiracy to traffic persons into the United Kingdom for the purposes of sexual exploitation and was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment.
Marinescu and Marcovici, 31, who uploaded profiles to adult websites and drove the women between the brothels, were found guilty of conspiracy to traffic persons within the UK for the purposes of sexual exploitation and the latter was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Miron, 24, was identified by police as the person responsible for creating and updating the profiles on adult websites, which were used by the gang to sell sex and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
Finally, Marin, 23, controlled a woman in prostitution after she came to the UK and assisted in the day-to-day running of the brothels and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Detective Constable Dan Davies, of the Met’s Organised Crime Command, said: “These defendants made a large sum of money by helping to run a series of brothels.
“This case demonstrates the Met will arrest and prosecute anyone involved in trafficking people into the United Kingdom and controlling their activities as prostitutes.
“I would like to commend the bravery of the women who gave evidence in court. Their evidence played a major role in securing the guilty verdicts in this case. The significant jail sentences handed out reflect the level of criminality in this case.”