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Eight pimps were arrested May 29, 2012 and May 30, 2012 in one of the largest brothel raids in Ireland’s history. The raid, known as “Operation Quest” consisted of searching 140 houses, apartments and flats in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Three women were removed from the raid who were considered possible victims of human trafficking.
Three women were arrested and sentenced in the Northern Ireland raids. Sandra Polewska, Milena Tarnowska, and Marta Kozakowska are all Polish nationals who have received suspended two-month prison sentences after all three plead guilty to running a brothel in Belfast and possession of criminal property. The human trafficking charges have not been brought up against anyone as of yet.
Kozakowska received an extra month to her suspended sentence after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice. Kozakowska swallowed a phone SIM card when police first raided her apartment in order to keep her client information secret.
According to the “IrishTimes.com,” the brothel run by these three Polish nationals was considered “unsophisticated.” It is unclear as to the hierarchy of the brothel and which one of the women, if any of the three, were considered in charge of everything. Instead the three seemed to work together to run the brothel but also acted as prostitutes.
Two other women were arrested in the Northern Ireland raids but were released on bail pending further inquiries. Two women and one man were arrested in the Republic of Ireland, but two of the three have been released without charges. No prostitutes were arrested during the raids because they are considered exploited victims rather than criminals.
In addition to sexual items and condoms around $4,229 were confiscated from the Northern Ireland raids.
The operation was a joint effort of Garda, Serious and Organized Crime Agency, Europol, UK Border Agency and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). A Garda spokesperson claimed, “during the investigation to date it has been established that prostitution is organized on a cross-border basis and today’s joint operation was specifically aimed at individuals and groups intent on making profits from vulnerable members of society across the island of Ireland.”
According to the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, Northern Ireland is the fastest growing sex industry in the United Kingdom. Denise Charlton, CEO of the Immigrant Council stated, “as a member of the Turn Off the Red Light Campaign, a coalition of more than 50 organizations, we want to see the Government act by making it illegal to pay for sex. It is this discrepancy in Irish law which has allowed the brothels to flourish and brought human rights abuses to our communities.”