1. ITV Report

Trafficking gang starts 23 year jail sentence

The gang of five has been jailed for 23 years Photo: Home Office

A gang that trafficked dozens of Hungarian women into the country to work as prostitutes has been jailed for a total of 23 years at Hove Crown Court.

British national Victoria Brown, and Hungarians Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi and brothers Peter and Istvan Toth trafficked more than 60 women into the country through ports and airports in the south east.

Suspicions were raised when Sussex Police referred separate incidents of prostitution to the Home Office, which were linked by Hungarian women who had traveled to the UK.

The gang provided transport, accompanied or chaperoned women into the UK, or financed the conspiracy by paying for flights, hotels and advertising.

All the women were subjected to physical, mental or financial control by the gang.

The gang was caught with the women on CCTV Credit: Home Office

The women, who were mainly from Budapest and south east Hungary, were aware they were coming to the UK work as prostitutes but misled about their working conditions.

Clients were charged significant amounts but the women were badly paid and overworked.

They were put to work at hotels and rented accommodation across the country, moving regularly between locations.

The conspiracy stretched as far north as Liverpool, south as Eastbourne, east as Norwich and west as Bristol.

The gang was caught following simultaneous raids by the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team in October 2012.

Officers found defendants operated a ‘switchboard’ which arranged rendezvous directly with clients via an adult services website.

The majority of the trafficked women have returned to Hungary.

Brothers Istvan and Peter Toth, who were arrested at an address in Eastbourne on 20 December 2012, were tried in their absence after absconding from court in September 2013. They are wanted men.

All the foreign national members of the gang will be subject to automatic deportation orders at the end of their sentences.

A timetable has also been set for proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act to start.

Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “This is an appalling case where an organised criminal gang has traded in human misery in order to make a profit. I am thankful that these criminal slave masters have been stopped and brought to justice.

“Slavery has no place in Britain and the Home Secretary and I have made clear our personal commitment to stamp it out.

“Action is being taken on a number of fronts; the newly launched National Crime Agency is leading an enhanced and co-ordinated response to targeting trafficking gangs, and we have published a draft Modern Slavery Bill."

David Fairclough, from the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: “This appalling gang preyed on the vulnerability of young women who came to the UK in the hope of finding a better life. They controlled the women mentally, physically and financially."

The court was shown CCTV of the women arriving in the UK Credit: Home Office
The court was shown CCTV of the women arriving in the UK Credit: Home Office