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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sex traffickers ordered to pay back money

16 August. Updated: 16 August 15:54
TWO CONVICTED sex traffickers who pocketed millions from running brothels in Worcester have been ordered to pay back some of the money gained from their crimes.
Fei Zhang and Cheng Zhao Su must pay back more than £150,000 between them for their part in operating sex brothels or face a longer spell in prison. Zhang is currently serving an eight year prison sentence after a police investigation called Operation Harmony uncovered a number of brothels being operated in Worcester in 2007.
The 43-year old was convicted by police and on Friday (August 12) he appeared before Judge Alistair McCreath at Worcester Crown Court for confiscation proceedings.
The court ruled that Zhang's benefit from his crimes was £4,688,243 and he was ordered to pay a confiscation order of £35,467.59 within six months or face a further 15 months in prison.
During the original investigation into Zhang's finances, West Mercia Police's economic crime unit found he had transferred more than £3.8million from his bank account into another account in China.
Officers are continuing to try and recover the money.
Another investigation called Operation Assam in 2008 found further brothels being run in Worcester, as well as the West Midlands and Warwickshire areas.
Su was found to be the man behind them and was given a six year sentence for people trafficking and managing and controlling prostitution for gain. This was reduced to four-and-a-half years for his early guilty plea. Worcester Crown Court last month declared his benefits to be £663,373.92. The 44-year-old, from Birmingham, was ordered to pay a confiscation order of £123, 241.46 within three months or face a further three years' imprisonment. An additional £7,800 was forfeited by Su at a further hearing at Telford Magistrates Court last month. Last week he signed all the necessary consents to allow West Mercia to pay monies from what was seized over to Her Majesty's Court Service.
Temporary Detective Inspector Mark Loader, who was involved in both Operation Harmony and Assam, said sex trafficking had grave consequences for the safety, welfare and human rights of its victims.
"Such organised crime imposes a serious threat to our communities but West Mercia Police has continued to demonstrate the effectiveness of the multi-agency, multi-disciplinary and partnership approach in targeting those involved in such crime and its proceeds," he said. "This is a crime that amounts to modern day slavery and is a complex issue, requiring a multitude of strategies at a range of levels to reduce the problem. Targeting the assets of organised crime groups is a significant strand of the strategy that Operation Assam adopted, and this confiscation order displays that we will use all possible opportunities to dismantle ruthless groups."

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