Five members of an organised crime gang who brought women from Hungary to work as prostitutes in UK cities – including Glasgow – have been jailed.
The traffickers brought at least 44 women into the country during an almost two-year period, setting them up in hotels and flats and uploading their profiles on to a website which advertised sexual services.
The defendants were Hungarian nationals Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth and Peter Toth, and Puskas’s former girlfriend Victoria Brown, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex.
They were found guilty yesterday of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation following a seven-week trial at Hove Crown Court.
The Toth brothers, from Eastbourne, are on the run and were sentenced in their absence.
Talking to the remaining three defendants, Judge Richard Hayward told them they had committed offending behaviour which “society finds repugnant”.Puskas, from Croydon, was jailed for six years, Brown for three years, and Mohacsi, from Ilford, east London, got four years for conspiracy to traffic women into the UK.
They placed the women in cities from Glasgow to Cardiff, in Kent, at Gatwick and even on a campus at the University of Sussex.
Istvan and Peter Toth were jailed for five years and four years respectively but both had nine months added to their sentences after being convicted of contempt of court for breaking bail.
A Home Office spokesman said the gang was caught following several raids, including at an internet cafe in Croydon, by its Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team in October 2012.
Following the sentencing, he said the majority of the trafficked women had returned to Hungary.
He said the Toth brothers were still wanted men and that those sentenced yesterday would be deported when they were released from prison.
David Fairclough, from the Home Office’s immigration enforcement 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.
“Our officers dismantled their despicable network and they are now where they belong – behind bars.
“Any form of trafficking will not be tolerated. It is a disgusting crime and, working with our law enforcement colleagues at home and abroad, we will do all we can to stop it and bring those involved to justice.”
Security minister James Brokenshire described it as an appalling case trading in human misery to make a profit.
He said: “I am thankful that these criminal slavemasters 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.
“The Bill, introduced later this year, will send the strongest possible message to criminals that if you are involved in this disgusting trade in human beings, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up.”