BREAKING SWINDON WILTSHIRE

A couple who made around £70,000 trafficking sex workers around the UK have been jailed

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The conviction of Cristian Simion and Mihaela Borcos under the Modern Slavery Act was the first case of its kind for Wiltshire Police.

The pair had previously stood trial back in July and today (29/09) appeared at Salisbury Crown Court for sentencing.

Simion, 29, now living in Grays, in Essex, who was found guilty of one count of human trafficking and two counts of money laundering, was jailed for two years and five months.

Borcos, 25, also living in Grays, in Essex, who was found guilty of one count of human trafficking and one count of money laundering, was jailed for two years and two months.

Officers from Wiltshire were first alerted in May 2017, after North Wales Police attended a hotel in Wrexham and spoke to a sex worker who revealed she was being put to work by an organised crime group in Swindon.

Intelligence enquiries quickly led to an address in Grantham Close, Freshbrook, and the suspicious activities of Romanian nationals Simion and Borcos.

What followed was a three-and-a-half-year complex police investigation, which included trawling through financial records, liaising with other police forces across the country, examining digital devices and computers which were seized from their address during a warrant and taking statements from potential witnesses.

Their work revealed that Simion and Borcos were running a highly-organised operation using vulnerable women, usually women originally from Romania who could not speak English and had no way of securing legal work in the UK.

They would upload profiles of the women onto adult websites and then move them around the country to carry out sex work.

The pair, who were in a relationship, then took a large cut of the money these women earned.

Financial records show that between April 2016 and August 2017 Simion made around £60,000 from his operation, while Borcos banked approximately £10,000.

In September last year, the team finally had the evidence they needed and the duo were charged.

Detective Constable Nick Bishop, from Wiltshire Police, said: “We carried out a lengthy and complex investigation, using various tactics to gather the evidence we needed to prove that Simion and Borcos were trafficking vulnerable women and profiting from their misery.

They exploited these women, many of whom could not speak English and were unable to find legal work in this country, with little or no regard for their welfare or wellbeing.

This case shows that human trafficking and modern slavery are very real crimes, with very real victims, and we will work hard to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Walker, who leads Wiltshire Police’s work on tackling human trafficking and modern slavery, said: “These types of offences are very often hidden crimes, but we are working hard to raise awareness about them and the damage that is done to those who are exploited.

“We aim to not only identify and convict offenders, but also protect the victims – such as the vulnerable women in this case – so they have the support they need to deal with what has happened to them.

“But, this is not something the police can do alone. We need our communities to be our eyes and our ears, reporting suspicious activities or circumstances to us so we can investigate.

“If you suspect that someone you know is being exploited, or you have concerns about a business or individual you believe may be involved in modern slavery or trafficking, then please report this to us.

“Similarly, if you yourself are a victim of this type of offence, then please be reassured that help is out there.”

Communities have an important role to play in recognising the signs of human trafficking and modern slavery and we would urge everyone to learn more about these crimes and what you can do to report your suspicions by visiting our website: https://www.wiltshire.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/ms/human-trafficking/

You can also call the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.