United Kingdom

Couple jailed for trafficking women into UK to work in brothels in Kensington and Marylebone

A married couple dubbed 'Big Brother and Mimi' have been jailed for a total of 12 years for trafficking women into the UK and forcing them to work at upmarket brothels.

Wai Tsang, 53, and wife Wenwen Pan, 41, ran highly lucrative sex and drugs dens in High Street, Kensington, and Ashmill Street, Marylebone, between July 2015 and January 2020.

Four undercover police officers paid visits to the bordellos and each time a young female answered the door and asked if they wanted sex.

Paul Raudnitz, prosecuting, quipped that the women working at the premises were 'not offering sports massages'.

Police raids later uncovered 72 mobile phones, condoms, sex toys, underwear, drugs, scales, snap bags and notebooks.

Financial evidence showed a credit card linked to the couple had been used to pay for ads on websites that sell sexual services, to order thousands of condoms and pay for dozens of taxis.

Wai Tsang (left) and Wenwen Pan (right), a married couple have been jailed for sex trafficking. Couple trafficked women in and around UK exploiting them by forcing them to be sex workers

How the Met broke up 'well-organised' sex and drugs operation 

On 23 July 2019, a woman aged in her 30s attended Kensington Police Station and claimed that she had been forced to work as a sex worker.

For a period of time she stayed at an address in High Street Kensington, which was managed by a Chinese man and woman, whom the informant understood to be married.

She referred to the couple as ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Mimi’. They were later established to be Tsang and Pan.

Tsang was the main driver who drove women to ‘outcalls’, which is when they are taken to clients’ houses or hotel rooms.

A taxi would be ordered on occasion to take the women to appointments which would be arranged by Pan.

The informant gave officers descriptions of the couple and their vehicles and subsequently picked Tsang out at an identification procedure.

The jury was told that Pan arranged the clients. She would give the sex workers instructions via a messaging application about a client, the address, what they wanted, what was expected, the fee that should be charged and if ‘Big Brother’ was on his way to collect them.

Each booking ranged in price from approximately £120 to £230 and the money had to be given to Tsang.

The sex workers were also told to sell drugs, either cocaine or crystal meth, to clients.

Pan would tell the women what drug the client wanted and to give it to the client when he arrived.

After the informant went to the police in July 2019 officers began an investigation codenamed Operation Laius. 

As part of their enquiries, undercover operatives contacted a telephone number that had been identified as advertising sexual services.

The operatives met the women who confirmed sexual services would be provided, before making their excuses and leaving the addresses.

After building enough evidence against the couple a series of warrants were executed on Thursday, 16 January 2020.

Tsang was arrested in Waterloo Place where he was parked in his vehicle after picking up a woman from High Street Kensington and dropping her nearby.

Officers searched his vehicle and found a Chinese woman’s passport and underwear in the glove box.

Inside the car were a number of carrier bags filled with boxes of condoms and multiple packets of underwear and outfits.

That same day, a search warrant was executed at Tsang and Pan’s home address in St Mary's Terrace, Westminster. Pan was present, but she refused to let the officers in – keeping a chain on the door. 

After officers forced entry, she was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and controlling prostitution for gain.

During searches at their home and the addresses in Kensington and Marylebone, officers recovered vast amounts of evidence including passports, mobile phones, thousands of condoms, outfits and drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth.

They were both charged on Friday, 17 January and were convicted as above. 

The couple were found to have laundered at least £171,472 in cash and bank transactions, the court heard.

Drugs in 'street sale' sized bags were also found at the Ashmill Street address and a brown A4 envelope was later recovered containing cocaine, ketamine and crystal meth in snap bags.

'All the packages were ready to go for sale in some sort of supply, small saleable quantities,' said Mr Raudnitz.

'Those street deals were a sideline business bolted on to the main business which was the provision of sexual services.'

The prosecutor told jurors Pan 'seems to be investing in trip after trip after trip on Uber'.

He added: 'Could it be she organises trips for sex workers?'

Mr Raudnitz detailed text messages showing negotiations for different sexual services at the brothel or 'outcalls'.

One reads: 'You working? Yes. outcall? Where are you dear? Ealing? 160 per hour.

'I have around 120-125 dear. Body to body 100 per one hour. Sex service 150 per hour do you want what time?'

Mr Raudnitz added: 'This is not a sports massage, this is absolutely clear, this is for sexual services.

'Message after message offering sexual services in the two addresses we are concerned with in this case.

'If it's all a legit massage business, why the condoms? Why the text messages and sex toys?'

Accounting records were also found with numbers correlating charges for customers and payment to the women such as '140/60' and '80/60'.

Accounts of transactions and scripts teaching the women to speak to clients in English were found in notebooks at the addresses.

It read: 'Would you like to come to see me? You have been here before have you? Nurse, nurse nurse! Turn over, turn over. Are you different to other people? Do you live with your family?'

The prosecutor said covert observations revealed Tsang ferrying women to and from the brothels, hotels and private addresses in a black VW Tiguan.

Following his arrest on January 17 for controlling prostitution Tsang replied: 'I don't control anybody'.

Mr Raudnitz told jurors Tsang had been stopped with three Chinese women in a BMW in 2015 who didn't speak English.

'He said he was a chef but that he did this, referring no doubt to those women, he did this on the side for extra money.' 

Judge Fiona Barrie said: 'There is a wealth of evidence showing an extensive, lucrative and well organised conspiracy to traffic young women in the UK and control their services for prostitution.

'At trial you (Mr Tsang) ran the extraordinary evidence that you were just a taxi driver and knew nothing, Ms Pan's evidence was that she was running an agency.

'Trafficking is a growing international industry in which victims are treated as commodities and operators can make vast sums of money.

'I recognise that absent in this case is international trafficking or the use of force or coercion.

'It doesn't mean this can be categorised as booking taxi drivers, not just the transport but the exploitation and management of services at their destination, including multiple messages to send girls to clients, arranging fees and services provided, venues to work from and the facilitation of their travel.

'This was in my judgement a significant operation in which both defendants were key players and expected with others to receive significant financial rewards. 

'The evidence suggests the control or multiple girls whilst advertising them as sex workers.

As part of their investigation, Met police officers executed search warrants at properties linked to the couple and recovered quantities of class A drugs including crystal meth as well as cocaine

'Police recovered evidence that phones showed hundreds of messages arranging the provision of sexual services.'

Judge Barrie added that condoms found at their home were 'floor to ceiling' and at an 'industrial scale'.

Tsang and Pan, of St Mary's Terrace, Paddington, were convicted of conspiracy to commit human trafficking, conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, money laundering and cleared of possession of class-B (ketamine) with intent to supply.

Pan alone was convicted of two counts of possession of class-As (cocaine and crystal meth) with intent to supply.

They were acquitted of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and conspiracy to control prostitution for gain in relation to one complainant.

Tsang was also cleared of raping one of the women.

Pan was jailed for six years and eight months while Tsang was jailed for five years and eight months.

They will serve up to half in custody before being considered for release by the Parole Board.

As well as thousands of condoms, officers recovered a large collection of women's underwear

PC Sam Bhangu, from Central West area's Sexual Exploitation Team, said: 'Tsang and Pan were part of a conspiracy directing and controlling the activities of sex workers.

'They had absolutely no regard for the wellbeing of the women they controlled. They dehumanised them and treated them as objects for their own personal financial gain.

'I'd like to commend the huge amount of bravery shown by the victim, not only for reporting these atrocious crimes to us but also for her vital assistance throughout the investigation, which ultimately helped us to bring Tsang and Pan to justice.

'The victim was controlled by this couple for years. She was forced to have sex with multiple men a day and she was even subject to violence and terrifying threats if Tsang and Pan were unhappy with her.

'She was trapped in this nightmare for months on end because she was in genuine fear of her own life and the lives of her loved ones.

'However, in the end she found the courage to go to the police, which freed her from Tsang and Pan's toxic grasp and now sees them facing a lengthy stint behind bars.

Detective Constable Stu Higgs, from Central West area's Sexual Exploitation Team, added: 'The Met has officers working around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and exploitation.

'We work closely with national and international partners to share intelligence, and identify and detain criminals, such as Tsang and Pan, who profit from exploiting vulnerable people.

'However, communities also have an important role to play in recognising the indicators.

'Modern slavery and human trafficking are often hidden in plain sight and we need the public to recognise the signs and report their suspicions.

'If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.'

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