Four arrested on suspicion of trafficking hundreds of women from EU into UK to work as prostitutes


Four men were arrested today on suspicion of trafficking hundreds of women from Hungary and other European Union countries into Britain to work as prostitutes.

It is believed many of the alleged victims of what police described as a sophisticated and high-value scheme run by a suspected international criminal network were lured to the UK after answering adverts in newspapers and employment websites for jobs as receptionists.

Up to 400 flights were arranged for the women, a number of whom were raped and physically abused when they were forced into sex work. Most of the victims were from Hungary.

Officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Trafficking and Prostitution Unit (TPU) investigating the sexual exploitation of foreign nationals raided seven addresses in London and Luton including a business premises in Camden, north London, which was operating as an agency.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland of the TPU said: "These arrests follow a six-month investigation. We believe that many women have been brought into the country having been told they will be given jobs, only to then be forced to work as prostitutes, with some being physically abused and raped in the process.

“Our main concern is for the victims. Today we have identified women we think have been sexually exploited, and they have all been offered care. The next stage will be to try to identify other victims, not just in the UK but those who have returned to Hungary, so they can be offered the same support.”

Two of the addresses in Enfield are believed to have been operating as brothels, police said. Three of the men arrested were Hungarian nationals whilst one was a 33-year-old British man who was arrested in Barnet, North London. Among the premises visited in the co-ordinated early morning raids was one at a luxury development in London’s Docklands.

A number of potential victims were found at the addresses according to police, whilst computers, cash, travel documents and account registers were all seized. The men are being questioned at a police station in north west London.

Detectives are now working with colleagues in Hungary and the Czech Republic to identify further victims. So far 15 women have come forward  although police believe the final number could be far higher.

It is believed that the organisers of the network had been generating considerable revenue from their activities with people employed to work at each stage of the process from recruiting the women in Hungary to meeting them at UK airports as well as at the premises where they were required to meet male clients in return for cash.

The women, a number of whom were answering adverts for escort agencies, were all able to travel on the national passports or using identity cards. Police have investigated a number of individual cases involving trafficking from Hungary but this is the first on such a large scale.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)