Women rescued in brothel raids

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The Independent Online

Police smashed a suspected multimillion-pound prostitution ring today in a series of co-ordinated raids.











Officers arrested seven people as they targeted homes and brothels in London, Surrey and Gloucestershire.



The operation followed months of undercover police work that gathered evidence of an extraordinarily lucrative vice empire.



At the centre of the alleged conspiracy were a couple thought to have made millions by managing a network of brothels.



The 56-year-old woman and her 43-year-old partner were accused of smuggling women into Britain to staff at least four brothels.



The pair were arrested at an address in Leatherhead, Surrey, where £5,000, three Mercedes, including two classic models, and a Vauxhall transporter were seized.



Police also raided a property belonging to the couple in Dursley, Gloucestershire, accompanied by colleagues from Gloucestershire Police.



Two Lamborghini sports cars believed to belong to the couple were seized from workshops nearby.



Further arrests were made in Epsom and Berkshire as police targeted those accused of running the brothels.



Police said seven women were rescued from four brothels in Glenbuck Court, Surbiton, Staines Road, West Sunbury and Church Road, Egham, as well as High Street, West Drayton.



Investigators said the women, aged between 19 and 22 and from south-east Asia and eastern Europe, were forced to work up to 12 hours every day.



They were told to pay off a substantial debt to the brothel owner in return for free passage to Britain.



Two women were available at each brothel where men would pay between £60 to £120 for a range of sexual services.



The move, dubbed Operation Icefall, was led by officers from the Metropolitan Police's clubs and vice unit.



Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, who was behind the operation, said: "The experiences of the women that are forced into prostitution are absolutely dreadful.



"Subjected to violence on a daily basis, they have to accept huge debt bondage which they are then forced to pay off by having sex with numerous clients all day, every day.



"These are some of the most vulnerable people that we come across within our operations and they need and deserve our protection.



"Rescuing these victims and tackling those who organise and profit from this awful trade is our key priority."