Fulham Women Arrested as Police Swoop on Vice Gang

Including Russian woman suspected of running brothel in Seagrave Road

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Two women from Fulham are among six people arrested on Tuesday on trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering offences following a police investigation which included searches of 13 addresses including Chelsea Harbour and Brompton Park Crescent in Fulham's Seagrave Road close to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground.

The women, who are reportedly a 44 year-old Russian woman suspected of running a brothel in Brompton Park Crescent and a second woman aged 31, are suspected to be part of a gang with links with the Russian mafia.

Police say officers investigating a trafficking and forced prostitution ring based in Kensington and Chelsea have arrested six people today, Tuesday May 14, and seized thousands of pounds in cash. 

At around 7am, detectives from the MPS Human Trafficking and Prostitution Unit, assisted by Safer Neighbourhoods and Home Office immigration officers conducted search warrants at 13 addresses.

These include a block of nine flats, reportedly in Warwick Road, believed to have been run as a brothel by the gang. Officers have seized around £60,000 cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act and searches are ongoing. 

During the raids, nine East European women, believed to have been forced into prostitution, were rescued and taken to a care centre to receive the support they need.

Police say the five people arrested were:

[A] a 44-year-old woman from Fulham;
[B] a 31-year-old woman from Fulham; 
[C] a 27-year-old man from Palmers Green; 
[D] a 30-year-old woman from Palmers Green; 
[E] a 33-year-old woman from Chelsea.

The sixth person - [F] a 37-year-old man from Beckton - was arrested in Essex ahead of the operation, at approximately 5am this morning.

It is believed the gang convinced women in Eastern Europe that they would be given administrative jobs in the UK. However, once brought into the country they were forced to work as prostitutes at addresses in Kensington and Chelsea. 

All six are currently in custody at a west London police station.

This is the first police operation carried out under the European Communities Against Trafficking (ECAT) Project. ECAT is a two-year programme launched in February this year and part-funded by a European Commission grant, which sees the MPS work with councils and charitable organisations to tackle trafficking, assist victims and raise awareness of the issue. 

DI Kevin Hyland of the MPS Human Trafficking and Prostitution Unit, said: "Today we have targeted an organised group of criminals who have been profiting from the abuse of scores of women. 

"This operation is in part a result of victims having the courage to come forward about the abuse they are suffering. I urge other victims of trafficking to phone our hotline where we have translators and specially trained staff awaiting their call. "

Victims of trafficking and prostitution are urged to call the MPS's 24-hour helpline, open seven days a week, on 0800 7832589.


May 14, 2013