|© Toby Melville / Reuters|
Rashid Ahmed, 68, and Hammall Amiri, 27, were found guilty of the offences at Southwark Crown Court in September 2015, while Nattakarn Budcha, 36, was prosecuted at a retrial in December.
All three of the defendants were part of an organized group which orchestrated the trafficking of people into the UK, who were then forced into prostitution.
Budcha and Ahmed were part of the group between 2010 and 2014, while Amiri joined in 2013.
During the trial, 13 victims gave evidence against the defendants saying they had been “recruited” in Thailand and subsequently brought to the UK, where their mobile phones and papers had been taken from them.
The victims spoke little or no English, so did not suspect that they were being held captive.
They were then taken to addresses in central London where they were forced to perform sex work and hand over a large percentage of their earnings. They were also each entered into a debt of £30,000 (US$42,300), and in some cases were forced to have unprotected sex in order to increase their popularity on sex work websites.
Ahmed received a six year sentence for one count of controlling prostitution and two counts of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Amiri was jailed for a total of five years on one count of controlling prostitution and one count of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Budcha was also sentenced to a total of five years on one count of controlling prostitution and one count of trafficking for sexual exploitation.
Detective Inspector Clare Murray of the Organized Crime Command said she hoped the sentencing would act as a deterrent.
"This has been a lengthy and complex 18-month investigation with 13 extremely vulnerable Thai nationals trafficked into the UK and forced into prostitution,” she said.
"The sentences given by Judge Tomlinson today, alongside London's second Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order, send a clear message and hopefully a deterrent to anyone thinking of taking part in this abhorrent crime.
"I would like to commend the bravery of the victims, several of whom were bought back to London to give evidence, in securing these convictions as well as the charities that provided vital support to those involved."
Sentences of 5 and 6 years means they will likely be out of prison in 2 to 3 years. That doesn't seem like a very strong deterrent to me. Nor does it seem commensurate with the destruction committed on the lives of the 13 Thai citizens. Of course, being Muslim, we wouldn't want to be seen as racist for giving them the sentence they deserved. I think they should be deported to Thailand when they get out!