A Hungarian gang who it is believed sexually exploited hundreds of women in Peterborough and London, been jailed for over 55 years after a victim escaped a London brothel and confided in police.
Southwark Crown Court heard how detectives from the Met Police Trafficking and Kidnap Unit (TKU) teamed up with officers abroad to execute 39 warrants in Hungary, London and Peterborough after the victim told them how she was sold, sexually exploited and raped over six years.
The woman, now 26, and Jeno Burai, (30), began a relationship in Hungary but Burai was grooming her for exploitation. After a while he became abusive, beating and threatening to kill her.
She was forced by Burai to work as a prostitute in Hungary and Austria before he brought her to the UK in July 2013 when she was again sometimes made to sleep with more than 10 men a day at a brothel on Star Road in Peterborough.
Burai then sold her to Hungarian national Zsolt Blaga, 38, in Peterborough, in order to settle a debt. He told Blaga - also known as “Snake” in criminal circles - to beat the victim if she did not do as she was told.
Blaga took her to a brothel in Church Road, Newham in October 2013, where he raped her twice and forced her to have sex with men.
But on 31 October 2013, the victim was left alone in the house. Taking the opportunity to escape, she climbed over the back garden fence and made her way to Ilford Police Station, where she told police about the abuse she had endured at the hands of the traffickers.
Specially trained officers from the TKU met with the victim and, after taking an initial account of her suffering, they took her to a place of safety, ensuring she received support.
The unit launched a joint investigation team with Hungarian police and, through sharing intelligence and working together, established that Blaga and Burai were linked to a much wider criminal network. Evidence indicates that they were involved in trafficking and sexually exploiting as many as 250 women at around 50 brothels in London and Peterborough.
Between June and July 2014, Met officers and Hungarian police executed search warrants and arrested eleven people, including Blaga and Burai, who were sentenced to 14 years and six years and eight months imprisonment respectively today.
After yesterday’s hearing, CPS London Chief Crown Prosecutor Baljit Ubhey said: “This sophisticated and commercial-scale operation is one of the largest ever prosecuted by CPS London.
“It involved the trafficking of at least 250 sex workers from Hungary for the purposes of sexual exploitation to be controlled in prostitution
and 50 brothel addresses in both London and Peterborough.”
The senior lawyer said the investigation took two years.
She added: “This enabled us to build the strongest possible case to put before the court, leading seven of those involved to plead guilty owing to the weight of evidence against them.
“While in many cases the women were voluntarily working in prostitution, they were trafficked here to be exploited and controlled, with the women having to give up to half of their earnings for the privilege of working in a house or brothel run by the defendants.
“One of the girls was trafficked against her will and raped by one of the individuals sentenced today and I would like to applaud her courage in reporting this to the police and giving evidence during the trial.
“I hope this prosecution provides some comfort to her and the other victims these individuals preyed on.
“I hope this case demonstrates our commitment to working with partners both in the UK and overseas in tackling organised crime involving trafficking and sexual exploitation.
“I would also like to extend my thanks to the Hungarian authorities for their invaluable assistance in this case.”
Erno Milankovics, 53, who admitted two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK, two counts of conspiracy to control prostitution, and was sentenced to six years and eight months in jail.
Zoltan Pamminger, 43, who admitted two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution. He was jailed for five years and four months.
Monika Zoltai, 41, who admitted two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution, and was jailed for four years.
Jeno Burai, 30 who admitted two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution. He was jailed for six years and eight months.
Natalia Csendes, 28, who was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution. She was jailed for two years and six months.
Csaba Kovacs, 32, who was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK, conspiracy to traffick within the UK and conspiracy to control prostitution. He was jailed for five years.
Melinda Jeger, 31, who admitted to conspiracy to control prostitution and was jailed for 20 months.
Agnes Szilli, 28, who admitted conspiracy to control prostitution and was jailed for 20 months.
Istvan Szilli, 46, who admitted conspiracy to control prostitution and was jailed for 20 months.
Zoltan Hogenadler 50, who was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to traffick into the UK, two counts of conspiracy to traffick within the
UK and conspiracy to control prostitution. He was jailed for five years.