Prostitution gang sentenced in landmark case for Northamptonshire

Four people, all from the same family, have been sentenced following an investigation into the trafficking of women from Europe into the UK, for the purposes of prostitution.

Operation Eton, which was led by the Force’s Serious & Organised Crime Team, saw the first modern slavery and human trafficking charges secured by Northamptonshire Police and involved an organised crime gang making more than £20,000 per month from women they had trafficked into the country.

Jamie Dunn, 42, previously of Irons Road, Lower Harlestone, his father, Martin Dunn, 74, of Compton Street, Northampton, Jamie’s partner – Catalina Cojocaru, 37, of Irons Road, Lower Harlestone, and her brother Andrei Cojocaru, 26, of Wellingborough Road, Northampton, were all sentenced this week (June 14) at Northampton Crown Court for their roles in the organised operation, after pleading guilty at an earlier court hearing.

Between November 2015 and January 2017, the group arranged for women to travel from Europe, mostly Romania, to engage in off-street prostitution, firstly in Northampton and then as the business grew, in Nottingham, Birmingham, and other Midlands’ locations.

In December 2015, Jamie Dunn placed online adverts on a sex worker website relating to up to 13 women working for the group in order to attract clients. He was also responsible for sourcing the properties that would go on to be used as brothels.

Catalina Cojocaru’s role was pivotal in the sourcing of women from Europe to travel to the UK as sex workers, and she was the one who would do the day-to-day running of the operations.

Police recovered lists and text messages that showed that Catalina acted as the sex workers’ ‘boss’, having daily contact with them and keeping records of the daily takings. Evidence showed that this amount was up to £1,640 per day of which the gang would take 50 per cent from each woman.

As the investigation progressed, Andrei Cojocaru was found in possession of 12 mobile phones, seven of which had the names of the sex workers written on the back so that he knew which booking was for which woman.

He would engage with clients who thought they were communicating with the advertised women and would then direct the clients to the property.

His role also included topping up mobile phones and collecting the trafficked women from airports.

Martin Dunn was the source of the initial finance outlay, having recently come into a large sum of money following a house sale. He also paid for airline tickets for a number of women coming into the UK and would help to collect them from airports. He also financed hotels and serviced apartments used by the sex workers. 

Following the investigation, Jamie Dunn was charged with two counts of conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person to the UK with a view to them being exploited, conspiring to control prostitution for gain, and for acquiring criminal property. He was sentenced to a total of four years and nine months in prison.

Catalina Cojocaru was charged with two counts of conspiring to arrange or facilitate the travel of another person to the UK with a view to them being exploited and conspiring to control prostitution for gain and she was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

Andrei Cojocaru was handed one year in prison, suspended for 14 months plus 150 hours of unpaid work, for the offence of conspiring to control prostitution for gain, and Martin Dunn was given a 12-month community order and 100 hours unpaid work for the offence of acquiring criminal property.

Senior Investigating Officer – Detective Inspector Carrie Powers, said: “This was a very complex and lengthy investigation but I am really pleased that through it, we managed to secure the Force’s first charges under modern day slavery legislation and to get guilty results for all four offenders.

“This organised crime gang exploited vulnerable women with the false promise of a better life in the UK. Instead, they forced them to have sex with a large number of men with no regard for their rights or welfare.

“These women worked long hours, only to have a large proportion of their earnings taken by the gang which would then be used to fund luxury lifestyles.

“Investigating these sort of cases may be complex but Northamptonshire Police is absolutely committed to tackling modern slavery and bringing the people who exploit vulnerable members of our community to justice.”

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