A BOGNOR Regis woman has been jailed for her part in trafficking dozens of Hungarian women into the country to work as prostitutes.
Victoria Brown, 25, of Ockley Road, has been jailed for three years for the role she played as part of the five-strong organised crime gang.
Along with Hungarian nationals Mate Puskas, Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth and Peter Toth, she was accused of bringing at least 44 women into the country over almost two years, setting them up in hotels and flats, including at the University of Sussex campus, and uploading their profiles on to a website which advertised sexual services for sale.
The defendants, including the Toth brothers, from Eastbourne, who are on the run and were sentenced in their absence, were found guilty yesterday of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation following a seven-week trial at Hove Crown Court.
Judge Richard Hayward told them they had committed offending behaviour which “society finds repugnant”.
Puskas, Brown’s former boyfriend, from Croydon, was jailed for six years, and Mohacsi, from Ilford, east London, was jailed for four years for conspiracy to traffic women into the UK.
Istvan and Peter Toth were jailed for five years and four years respectively for the same offence, but both had nine months added to their sentences after being convicted of Contempt of Court for breaking bail.
Puskas, 26, was told even though he was younger than his co-conspirators he had “business acumen” and was undoubtedly at the heart of the operation.
Jude Hayward said: “You were at the centre of the conspiracy and very much in control.
“This conspiracy was an extension of your career which you had already chosen.”
Brown, 25, was described by Judge Hayward as a “loyal lieutenant” to Puskas, who was drawn skilfully into the operation by her boyfriend over a period time.
She wept as he told her she had run an unattractive defence of duress, seeking to blame her actions on Puskas, the father of her 21-month-old son.
He said: “It is very sad to see you in the dock. You are intelligent, you come from a respectable family, you had a good job, and you threw it all away for Mate Puskas.”
Nicholas Hamblin, representing Brown, told the court she had performed “secretarial activities” and “was acting to a certain extent under pressure”.
Mr Hamblin added that she had made no personal gain from the trafficking and that loans of £21,000 taken out on behalf of Puskas had left her bankrupt.
The gang was caught following simultaneous raids by the Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team in October 2012.
Officers found defendants operated a ‘switchboard’ which arranged rendezvous directly with clients via an adult services website.
Among the locations raided was an internet café in Surrey Street, Croydon, run by Brown and Puskas.
They were found with various mobile phones containing texts about meetings that had been arranged between prostitutes and clients.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said: “This is an appalling case where an organised criminal gang has traded in human misery in order to make a profit. I am thankful that these criminal slave masters have been stopped and brought to justice.
“Slavery has no place in Britain and the Home Secretary and I have made clear our personal commitment to stamp it out.
“Action is being taken on a number of fronts; the newly launched National Crime Agency is leading an enhanced and co-ordinated response to targeting trafficking gangs, and we have published a draft Modern Slavery Bill.
“The bill, introduced later this year, will send the strongest possible message to criminals that if you are involved in this disgusting trade in human beings, you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be locked up.”