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An investigation into the exploitation of sex workers has seen 12 people arrested, with three people charged

 

 

The two-day operation, which was led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, saw eight pre-planned warrants carried out in areas including Woolwich, Canterbury and Maidstone across Tuesday 16 and Wednesday 17 February 2021.

 

Kent Police detectives, supported by officers from local policing and community policing teams, also recovered phones, paperwork and more than £35,000 in cash during eight pre-planned search warrants.

 

 

Two warrants were executed on 16 February, one in Canterbury and another in Woolwich.

 

The search in Canterbury led to the arrest of a 37-year-old local man and two people from Folkestone, a 59-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman.

 

Enquiries in Woolwich led to the arrest of a 44-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man, both from London.

 

Another woman was arrested for immigration offences.

 

All have been released under investigation and two women were also safeguarded as a result of the work. 

 

 

Four warrants were carried out in Kent on 17 February, in locations including Medway and Maidstone. As a result, a 36-year-old man from Maidstone was arrested.

 

Two properties were also searched in London, which led to the arrest of three women, two in their 40s and one in her 50s.

 

Two women were also arrested for immigration offences and a further two women were safeguarded.

 

 

Detectives charged London residents Yan Ping Zhu, 43; Chun Ping Shao, 50 and Feng Zhu Lin, 45 with controlling prostitution for gain and acquiring criminal property.

 

They are all from London and have been remanded in custody to appear at court at a later date.

 

When people are forced into providing sexual services they are being exploited. This can take place in a variety of locations including brothels, pop-up brothels, massage parlours, hotels and in vehicles.

 

Those suffering from this abuse, who are transported from one location to the next, regardless of how far and whether they are chaperoned or not, also become victims of human trafficking.

 

As well as targeting brothels, Kent Police will investigate those behind the arrangement of such services which seek to manipulate vulnerable women for financial gain.

 

Detective Inspector Kristian Eberlein from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: ‘Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s rare that victims come forward. The exploitation of sex workers is often linked to organised national and international crime networks, involved in human trafficking, drugs and money laundering.

 

‘Safeguarding vulnerable victims is at the forefront of the work we carry out and officers work alongside partners and charities to shut down suspected brothels and identify those being exploited on a regular basis.

 

‘Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, sexual services have continued to be advertised in Kent with people completely undeterred by the Government’s guidelines. This gives way for more and more vulnerable women to be taken advantage of.

 

‘We want to help victims who are being pressured into offering these services against their will and can’t find a way out. That is why it is important we look at all the ways we can disrupt this criminal activity and identify and prosecute the ring leaders responsible for the setting up of such services and the wider exploitation.’