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Hampshire 'brothel' raided in huge sex trafficking operation
A SUSPECTED brothel in Hampshire has been raided in one of the UK's biggest ever sex trafficking crackdowns.
More than 150 police and UK Border Agency officers were involved in the crackdown, which covered nine counties across southern and eastern England.
A total of 13 raids took place at suspected brothels and homes believed to be linked to the gang.
The raids took place in London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire and Essex.
A Chinese woman was arrested in a raid in Farnborough on suspicion of being a brothel madam.
Four men were arrested at other locations on suspicion of being involved in the management of a brothel.
Three men aged 52, 38 and 34 and a woman aged 35 were also arrested on suspicion of conspiring to control prostitution for gain, trafficking and money laundering offences.
All nine are now being questioned by UK Border Agency investigators.
Sam Bullimore, assistant director of UKBA, said: ''This is an investigation into an organised crime group that we believe is involved in human trafficking, sexual exploitation, money laundering and a host of other serious criminal offences.
''The UKBA has done other operations of this type in recent years but this is the biggest operation led by the UKBA into human trafficking for sexual exploitation.''
He said the focus of their investigations was not to just close down brothels but to find the ''Mr Bigs'' behind the gangs.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said the crackdown would continue over the coming months.
''As today's raids show, we are working with the police and other law enforcement agencies to tackle the organised criminals who abuse the immigration system.
''This summer we are targeting our efforts on breaking up the organised gangs who trade in human beings and are behind visa scams.
''The message is clear - the UK is no longer a safe haven for immigration offenders and human traffickers.''
Hampshire Euro MP Catherine Bearder, a campaigner to raise awareness of people trafficking, said: “I congratulate the police and the UK Border Agency for carrying out this raid so successfully.”
“Trafficking is happening in our communities but it is nearly always unseen.”
“Earlier this year Oxford saw a man convicted of trafficking women for sexual exploitation.”
“Thankfully the UK signed up to the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Directive so the police and anti-trafficking organizations will have the powers they need to really stop this horrendous crime.”
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