'Brutal' UK prostitution gang sentenced

2014-07-03 18:01
The organizer, 35-year-old Indian national Vishal Chaudhary, received 12 years. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Police)

The organizer, 35-year-old Indian national Vishal Chaudhary, received 12 years. (AP Photo/Metropolitan Police)

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London - An international trafficking network forced more than 120 Eastern European women into prostitution, using violence and intimidation to operate brothels across London "on a commercial scale," police said on Thursday.

Five members of the gang were sentenced on Wednesday to between 3 and 12 years in prison for luring victims to Britain with false promises of legitimate work. The organizer, 35-year-old Indian national Vishal Chaudhary, received 12 years. The women were forced to have sex with up to 20 men a day.

The gang managed the women from a make-shift call centre using more than 40 mobile phones, with each phone containing a victim's name, brothel location, and fees.

"There was a high level of violence and a high level of sexual exploitation," said Detective Chief Inspector Mick Forteath. He said one woman was forced to perform "violent sex acts as a punishment," because she had managed to leave the brothel to get food.

The gang confiscated the victims' passports and threatened to tell their families they were prostitutes, police said. Some of the women believed they were coming to Britain to work as baby-sitters, or in administrative or cleaning jobs, after responding to online job postings.

Most of the women came from Hungary; others were from Poland and the Czech Republic.

Forteath said the kidnapping and trafficking unit has more than 50 other investigations in process. Some involve domestic servitude while others deal with similar prostitution rings involving women from Eastern Europe.

Police say it is unclear how long the gang, which was made up of British, Indian and Hungarian nationals, was operating before detectives began investigating in 2012.

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