A woman has spoken of her pride at helping to jail a ‘dangerous’ gang operating in Essex and London who forced her into prostitution and exploited hundreds of other women. Her harrowing story was “absolutely essential” for detectives working in London and Essex to find several brothels last year and protect women, the Metropolitan Police said.
Detectives identified more than 300 potential female victims and protected 134. The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the gang “did a lot of bad things” and was part of “a lot of people dangerous” that she had encountered.
Five gang members have been convicted at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, of offenses including conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person for the purpose of exploitation and conspiracy to control prostitution for profit. The woman said: ‘I just hope they will regret in the present what they did to me and other women.
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“I’m just happy that the police helped me and that the police believed me. They always supported me. I’m just very proud that someone believed me.
Women in their 40s and 50s were among the gang’s prey. The victim was 18, homeless, spoke little English and was trying to avoid a life on the streets with drug addicts when she became involved with the gang.
She responded to an online ad that got her to work in a brothel and she then attempted suicide. MSCE detectives, who say victims of modern slavery often don’t trust the police, describe them as “brave”.
The woman said she doesn’t consider herself brave but is “just proud” that “I’m still alive because there were a lot of bad men”. She recalled many situations where she wanted to take her own life, but added: “I’m just so proud that I carried on, that I’m still fine, alive and healthy, that I’m safe and free now. .”
She hopes to build a new life for herself after spending two years working in two different brothels. The victim said she didn’t know what she was getting into, but as soon as she arrived at the first brothel, she knew she was “in trouble”.
Within weeks, the people who had dragged her into this life had become “very aggressive.” The initial kindness she had received from a female gang member quickly faded and the victim said she didn’t think she could escape.
She said the gang used her as a “machine” and recalled, “I couldn’t take it anymore. Drugs only helped me not sleep – so I was on drugs and had no food. I didn’t even have time to shower. I have become tired. My health has become very bad.
“Once (once) they wouldn’t give me food when I was too tired. They said I didn’t deserve to have anything to eat. She called the police, which prompted the gang members to try to beat her.
She escaped into a garden and was taken to a hotel by officers. Recalling the decision to speak to the police, she said: “It was the aim of the criminal group for me to believe them because I was so stupid and so young.
“I believed them and I thought maybe they (the police) wouldn’t believe me because I was a prostitute. I believed them (the gang) but I thought it wasn’t not sure what they did to me and what they did to others.
“I thought, that’s why you have the police on this planet. They are supposed to be there to listen to us. I was determined and I said to myself: “I need to talk to someone about this”.
Detective Inspector Esther Richardson, who said the victim was ‘brave’ to speak out, said: ‘These defendants committed these crimes out of greed. These crimes were committed for their financial gain and sense of entitlement.
“I really believe they thought what they were doing was okay and there was no problem with trafficking in women and sexual exploitation and they were above the law. For the victim, testifying took a lot of courage – for a victim who is going to have their life put in the spotlight in front of a jury, it’s such a nerve-wracking thing. Without her, we couldn’t have done this.
She added that her team was able to discover “the true scale” of the operation. My team worked tirelessly to identify and protect hundreds of other women across London who were being exploited by this organized crime group,” she said.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Smillie, who heads the MSCE, said police have a ‘very small window’ to help traumatized victims and ‘for very obvious reasons it is difficult and difficult’ to get manifest. Modern slavery occurs on local high streets and is a very difficult type of crime to spot as it often takes place behind closed doors, he said.
Mr Smillie added: “It involves very, very low wages, very poor working conditions for the victims, accommodation is often in poor accommodation – a multi-occupancy house, very poor, cramped and cold conditions. All of this is difficult for members of the public to spot. We are totally dependent on members of the public and victims who come forward to report these crimes directly. »
Met Police said the following five people were sentenced on Friday after a 10-week trial in March. Sebastian Zimoch, 48, of Carlton Road, Romford was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Michael Lozinski, 53, of Berwick Avenue, Hayes was also found guilty of controlling prostitution for profit and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Gregaor Borowka, 44, of Yeading Avenue, Harrow was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.
Rafal Lacki, 41, of Felmongers, Harlow was sentenced to 18 months in prison but was released on Friday due to time served.
Anna Zimoch, 45, of Carlton Road, Romford was given a two-year suspended prison sentence, ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and undergo a 30-day rehabilitation period.