Three people from the same family who trafficked a vulnerable 20-year-old woman to the UK and forced her to work as a prostitute for three years were jailed for a total of 24 years on Friday, 25 May.
Constantin Aurel Mihai, 37 of Targoviste in Romania was previously convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution and money laundering. He was jailed for nine years.
Valentina Mihai, 37 of Targoviste in Romania was previously convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution and money laundering. She was jailed for six years.
Catalin Marian Mihai, 32 of Targoviste in Romania was previously convicted of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, controlling prostitution and money laundering. He was jailed for eight years.
The investigation by the Met's Kidnap and Modern Slavery Unit commenced in November 2015 following a referral from the Romanian Police.
In January 2012, the victim - then a 20-year-old woman - was taken to the Mihais' home in Romania, and 'purchased' by Constantin Mihai and his wife Valentina for 10,000 Euros.
The victim was taken against her will to the UK, and forced to work as a prostitute in Ilford, East London. Her identity documents were taken from her and she was subjected to regular beatings from Constantin Mihai. She was also plied with alcohol and cocaine in order that she become compliant and dependant on her captors.
When Constantin returned to Romania, Valentina Mihai controlled the victim in the absence of her husband. The victim was given a phone linked to their iCloud accounts so that her communications and movements could be monitored at all times. She was prevented from any contact with her family and forced tell them that she didn't want to see them anymore.
After three years of forced prostitution, violence and substance abuse, in April 2015, the victim managed to secretly hide away enough money to purchase a plane ticket to Hungary, where she had family connections.
The victim fled the UK leaving her iPhone with the taxi driver, fearing that she would be found by the Mihais.
A pro-active operation was commenced by officers from the Met's Modern Slavery and Kidnap unit in November 2015, working with the Romanian Police's organised crime unit and Eurojust. It became apparent that the Mihai bothers had an extensive network of women working for them in prostitution who were sending them and Valentine Mihai huge sums of money through money service bureaux and couriers.
In October 2017, Constantin and Valentina Mihai were arrested at their home address in Targoviste on a European Arrest Warrant, with Catalin Marian Mihai being arrested at another property in Targoviste.
All three were extradited to the UK and stood trial at Southwark Crown Court on 9 April 2018.
DC Alex Snigorski from the Met's Kidnap and Modern Slavery team, said:
"The Mihais are a parasitic family living off the misery and suffering of others.
"They thought nothing of 'buying' women and abusing them for their own financial benefit, to fund their love of luxury cars and property.
"I would like to pay tribute to the enormous courage and strength of character that the victim in this case has shown throughout the trial."