Couple convicted of trafficking sex workers in first case of its kind for Wiltshire Police
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A couple who made around £70,000 trafficking sex workers around the UK have been convicted under the Modern Slavery Act in the first case of its kind for Wiltshire Police.
Officers from Wiltshire were first alerted in May 2017, after North Wales Police attended a hotel in Wrexham and spoke to a sex worker who revealed she was being put to work by an organised crime group in Swindon.
Intelligence enquiries quickly led to an address in Grantham Close, Freshbrook, and the suspicious activities of Romanian nationals Cristian Simion and Mihaela Borcos.
What followed was a three-and-a-half year complex police investigation, which included trawling through financial records, liaising with other police forces across the country, examining digital devices and computers which were seized from their address during a warrant and taking statements from potential witnesses.
Their work revealed that Simion and Borcos were running a highly-organised operation using vulnerable women, usually women originally from Romania who could not speak English and had no way of securing legal work in the UK. They would upload profiles of the women onto adult websites and then move them around the country to carry out sex work.
The pair, who were in a relationship, then took a large cut of the money these women earned.
Financial records show that between April 2016 and August 2017 Simion made around £60,000 from his operation, while Borcos banked approximately £10,000.
In September last year, the team finally had the evidence they needed and the duo were charged.
They denied the charges, but after a 15-day trial at Swindon Crown Court they were eventually convicted this week.
Simion, 29, now living in Grays, in Essex, was found guilty of one count of human trafficking and two counts of money laundering.
Borcos, 25, also living in Grays, in Essex, was found guilty of one count of human trafficking and one count of money laundering.
The pair have been released on conditional bail and told to surrender their passports ahead of sentencing in September.
Detective Constable Nick Bishop, from Wiltshire Police, said: “This conviction is a landmark for Wiltshire Police, as it is the first of it’s kind in the county and demonstrates our very real commitment to tackling this type of crime.
“Human trafficking and modern slavery is often a hidden crime, but we are working hard to raise awareness about it and the damage it does to those who are exploited.
“Simion and Borcos trafficked vulnerable people around the country, exploiting them to make large sums of money for themselves.
“They profited from the misery of others, with little or no regard for the welfare and wellbeing of the women they were using.”
Kieran Kilgallen, Acting Police and Crime Commissioner, added: “Modern slavery offences are often committed by sophisticated means so this conviction is testament to the diligence and dedicated of the officers and staff involved.
“Exploitation, and sexual exploitation in particular, can have a devastating impact on victims and this conviction sends a strong message to offenders that Wiltshire Police will robustly investigate and work with the Criminal Prosecution Service to prosecute these offences.
“Often exploitation is thought to only happen in bigger cities, but this conviction shows that it does, and is happening in Wiltshire today.
“The OPCC continues to work with the police, victim support services and local authority partners to not only support victims of modern slavery, but safeguard those at risk to stop it happening in the first place.”
Communities have an important role to play in recognising the signs of human trafficking and modern slavery and we would urge everyone to learn more about these crimes and what you can do to report your suspicions by visiting our website
You can also call the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.