Leader of prostitution ring is sent to prison

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A PROSTITUTION gang boss who was aided by a Southsea beautician has been jailed.

Hong Chin was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment – two to be served in custody and the remainder on licence – at the Old Bailey.

He was also made subject to a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order – the first of its kind in Sussex.

This prevents him from holding a passport or identity documents in someone else’s name, other than family members, arranging travel for anyone other than family members, or arranging hotel accommodation for anyone other than family members.

The court heard that 19 victims, all from south east Asia, were identified as being exploited at hotels across the south east between 2013 and 2015 by Hong Chin, a 45-year-old Surrey takeaway worker, and his accomplices.

They were Li Wei Gao, 44, of Esher, Surrey, and Tingli Lu, 47, a beautician, of Somers Road, Southsea.

The trio were convicted earlier this month of conspiracy offences connected to controlling prostitution and trafficking people for sexual exploitation. Gao and Lu are due to be sentenced on Friday November 3

Detective Inspector Andy Richardson, of Sussex Police - who released CCTV images of the gang in action - said: ‘Often the women were moved to different towns around the south east where hotel rooms were booked for them, and then they were told who they would be seeing and what services they had to offer; they had no say in any of this.’

He added: ‘I’m delighted with the sentence and I’m delighted we were successful in our application for a Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order against Chin, which will stop him exploiting vulnerable women again. It also sends out a clear message that this sort of activity will not be tolerated, and that anyone caught doing so will be dealt with robustly.

‘This has been a complex and lengthy investigation where vulnerable women were trafficked into the UK for the purposes of prostitution.

‘Each of the defendants vehemently denied the offences, however through exploring their movements, their finances and their lifestyle arrangements we were able to provide key evidence to the prosecution.

‘We were able to show the hundreds of hotel and adult website bookings the defendants made, and recovered numerous mobile telephones, SIM cards and hotel room keys as well as other key evidence in searches.

‘This was effectively a well organised and structured business which made the defendants thousands of pounds, as was seen from their bank accounts.

‘Working with partner agencies, we are committed to preventing and detecting human trafficking, and protecting vulnerable victims. We will continue to investigate all reports of human trafficking to bring offenders to justice.

‘We would also encourage any other victims of human trafficking to report it to us online or call 101, or in an emergency call 999. We are here to help and support you.’

Kevin Thomson, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘This was an organised operation designed to traffic women into prostitution, as shown by the variety of bank accounts used to run it and the sheer amount of funds it generated. These elements helped to provide compelling evidence of what these defendants were doing.

‘The gang exploited vulnerable women, putting them to work in situations which exposed them to serious potential risks. Once the women were caught up in the prostitution ring, it was invariably almost impossible for them to escape the life they had been forced into.

‘All the time, they were then earning what turned out to be huge sums of money for the defendants, who were responsible for running the operation without any regard for the women’s wellbeing.’