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LATEST: Maidstone man, 36, arrested in exploitation of sex workers investigation

Friday 19th February 2021

A MAIDSTONE man has been arrested as part of an investigation into the exploitation of sex workers.

A total of 12 people have been arrested after a two-day operation in areas across Woolwich, Canterbury and Maidstone.

Officers recovered phones, paperwork and more than £35,000 in cash during eight pre-planned search warrants.

The search in Canterbury led to the arrest of a 37-year-old local man and two people from Folkestone, a 59-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman.

Enquiries in Woolwich led to the arrest of a 44-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man, both from London.

Four warrants were carried out in Kent on 17 February, in locations including Medway and Maidstone. As a result, a 36-year-old man from Maidstone was arrested.

Two properties were also searched in London, which led to the arrest of three women, two in their 40s and one in her 50s.

Two women were also arrested for immigration offences and a further two women were safeguarded.

Detective Inspector Kristian Eberlein from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s rare that victims come forward. The exploitation of sex workers is often linked to organised national and international crime networks, involved in human trafficking, drugs and money laundering.

“Safeguarding vulnerable victims is at the forefront of the work we carry out and officers work alongside partners and charities to shut down suspected brothels and identify those being exploited on a regular basis.

“Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, sexual services have continued to be advertised in Kent with people completely undeterred by the Government’s guidelines. This gives way for more and more vulnerable women to be taken advantage of.

“We want to help victims who are being pressured into offering these services against their will and can’t find a way out. That is why it is important we look at all the ways we can disrupt this criminal activity and identify and prosecute the ring leaders responsible for the setting up of such services and the wider exploitation.”