On Thursday 19 August 2021, coordinated search warrants were carried out by officers at properties in Cambridge, Croydon, Dagenham and Reading. During the searches a number of items were seized including more than 70 phones, three cars, and thousands of pounds in cash that could not be accounted for.
A 40-year-old woman from Cambridge, a 26-year-old woman from Croydon, and two men, one aged 36 from Cambridge and the other aged 37 from Dagenham, were arrested during the operation.
Detectives believe the mobile phones were being used to run brothels in Kent and further afield. As such, officers carried out a number of other visits to ensure any vulnerable people were identified and safeguarded.
Lina Wang, 40, of Bartlow Road in Linton, Cambridge, and Chung Fu Wang, 37, of Blackbourne Road in Dagenham, were charged with conspiracy to control prostitution for gain. Lina Wang was also charged with money laundering.
They both appeared at Medway Magistrates’ Court on Friday 20 August 2021 and have been remanded in custody. They are next due to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on 17 September 2021.
The 36-year-old man from Cambridge and the 26-year-old woman from Croydon have not been charged but remain under investigation.
Detective Sergeant Stacey Chapman from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: ‘Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s rare that victims come forward, which is why it is necessary for us to carry out proactive operations like this one. 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.’