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Vice ring smashed after safe depository raid

PUBLISHED: 19:56 21 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 07 September 2010

A CRIMINAL gang involved in trafficking women for prostitution has been smashed by police thanks to clues picked up in raid on Hampstead Safe Depository centre. On Tuesday officers from the Met s Clubs and Vice unit raided a series of brothels across the

A CRIMINAL gang involved in trafficking women for prostitution has been smashed by police thanks to clues picked up in raid on Hampstead Safe Depository centre.

On Tuesday officers from the Met's Clubs and Vice unit raided a series of brothels across the capital including one in Camden.

Five women were rescued in the operation which also saw 12 people arrested, three of those at the Camden brothel.

Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Met's clubs and vice unit, said: "The experiences of the women that are forced into prostitution are absolutely horrendous. They experience violence on a daily basis and are subject to huge debt bondage which they are then forced to pay off by having sex with numerous clients daily. These are some of the most vulnerable people that we come across within our operations. Rescuing these victims and ensuring their safety is our key priority."

The raids were the climax of a nine month operation which began when police discovered £150,000 in a locked box when they raided Finchley Road's Hampstead Safe Deposit centre in June last year.

Five days after that raid, which was part of Operation Rize, a woman was arrested after she voluntarily surrendered herself to police to answer questions about the money.

She initially claimed the cash was raised through incapacity benefits.

But when detectives began investigating they discovered she also had £96,000 in a bank account as well as £800,000 which had been transferred abroad over five years.

Police are still trying to recover the funds.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson said: "It's our responsibility to look after and do something about the violence faced by these women. This morning's raids have been a joint operation, particularly within the Met, with the Clubs and Vice Unit and Economic and Specialist Crime Unit. It's about us doing our part in the Met to support this partnership strategy. It is hugely important that we intend to get tough with the perpetrators and that is what we are paid to do.


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