FouR women, who were working out of brothels in the city have co operated with gardai who searched two suspected brothels on Tuesday afternoon, Mary Cody writes.
The women, three of whom are foreign nationals have spoken to investigating gardai and have not been formally arrested. Computers, mobiles phones and other materials were seized in the operation. The properties in question are located at Johns Gate and Robertshill area of the city.
The operation involved more than 200 gardaí and 150 PSNI officers working as part of a long-running investigation code-named Operation Quest. The operation was not focued on the prostitutes but on the organisers of the brothels, Local gardai searched the premises shortly after 3pm. It is understood that a woman was found in one premises with a man and three women were found in the second premises.
The four women have been quizzed in relation to how they entered the country and gardai are satisfied that they are here of their own free will and are not victims of human trafficking. “This is an intelligence-gathering effort to ascertain who is controlling prostitution. Our enquiries are ongoing and these women have co-operated with our enquiries. We are focusing on the organisers and those who are exploting others and not the victims,” said a garda spokesman.
The two properties are believed to be part of a highly-organised network. Gardai are appealing to anyone who sees any suspicious activity to contact them on 056 777 5000.
Support and advocacy group Ruhama welcomed the actions taken by both police services and the focus of the operation on the organisers of the trade. Its chief executive, Sarah Benson, said: “The particularly strong message that is being put by the gardaí and the PSNI that the focus is on the organisers and those making a profit is to be really strongly welcomed. And the fact that they are recognising and acknowledging the women involved are vulnerable persons and potential victims of trafficking,” she said.
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