Cops raid four city brothels

16-year-old girl has been rescued from sex traffickers in Glasgow.

The Roma teenager was freed from a South Side brothel as police launched raids against international prostitution rings across the city.

The child, who is a Romanian citizen, was removed from a flat in Govanhill last week.

Her rescue came before police raided a further three brothels across the South Side, detaining a Thai woman from each of them.

The Evening Times joined officers as they shut down flats allegedly used for prostitution in Govanhill, Shawlands and Tradeston and swooped on the home of a suspected pimp in Pollokshields.

Detective Inspector Pat Campbell said the raids were part of a major investigation into organised crime groups bringing women from Thailand to Scotland to work in the vice trade.

A total of three Thai women were detained, initially as suspected victims of trafficking. However, the three, aged 34, 40 and 45, have now been charged with prostitution offences. They too will appear in court tomorrow.

It is understood one of the women told officers she had been brought to Britain a decade ago.

The Evening Times watched as another of the three was taken out of a ground floor flat on Norham Street in Shawlands.

The slightly-built south-east Asian had been alone when police, backed by officers from the UK Border Agency, swooped on the property.

The flat – its windows covered by net curtains –looks out over Shawlands Academy.

Police also raided a property next to another school, in Calder Street, Govanhill, opposite the playground of the fee-paying Hutchesons’ Grammar School’s primary.

They raided a third suspected brothel in Oxford Street, Tradeston, just a few hundred yards from Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Detectives detained the suspected pimp in a GHA property in St Andrew’s Drive, Pollokshields.

The Evening Times watched as the 45-year-old was taken away in handcuffs.

So too was another man discovered in the property.

Believed to be a 27-year-old from Pakistan, he has been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

All four raids were carried out as part of Operation Andronicus, a major intelligence-gathering exercise on the scale of Thai prostitution rings in Glasgow.

Detective Sergeant Andy Brown of Strathclyde Police stressed more raids would follow.

He said: “We have several ongoing inquiries.”

However, the operation that discovered the Roma teenager last week was not part of the investigation in to Thai prostitution.

Police are also interested in several other foreign crime groups involved in the vice trade, including Roma and ethnic Slovak gangs from Slovakia, as well as Chinese Triads and the Albanian mafia.

Last week the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency said it had identified nine sex trafficking gangs operating in Scotland.

The vice trade remains lucrative for criminal gangs.

A typical Thai prostitute, for example, will charge between £60 and £100 for an hour-long session and see around six men a day, seven days a week.

Some of the women, police say, may know that they are going abroad to work as prostitutes.

Women are routinely expected to hand over much of their earnings to their traffickers or other pimps.

They also typically feel they can’t leave their brothels because of a bond of debt – or fear of reprisals against family members back home.

Trafficked women rarely live up to the media image as unwashed waifs chained to radiators when they are not working or smuggled in to the country in the back of container trucks.

Nor do they necessarily conform to the stereotype of a street prostitute in high heels and short skirt.

They may dress like any other woman of their age and be able to move freely in and out of their flats.

That is one of the messages of a major public information campaign launched by Mr Brown’s anti-trafficking unit.

Police began leafleting parts of the South Side and city centre of Glasgow this week.

They want members of the public to flag up possible brothels where foreign women may be working.

Police are keen to investigate flats where there are regular but short visits by men at all times of the day and night.

Their leaflet is written in eight languages: English, Czech, Slovak, Romanian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai and Swahili. That list, insiders stress, gives a clear indication of the migrant communities where women are most at risk of being trafficked.

The Crown Office launched its first ever Scottish prosecution for human trafficking earlier this year.

No-one has ever been convicted of the crime north of the border.

Prosecutors, however, stress that they have previously put traffickers out of business by charging them with other offences, including brothel-keeping and immigration crimes.

Police teams are currently watching known Glasgow brothels. Other officers are scouring the internet and the classified adverts for clues about new women appearing in the city. Trafficked prostitutes are frequently moved around Scotland.


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