Extensive modern slavery investigation leads to convictions for controlling prostitution, modern slavery and financial offences
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Three people have been convicted of prostitution, modern slavery and criminal proceeds offences after a Surrey Police investigation uncovered a pattern of exploitation at brothels across the country.
The investigation was completed by a Joint Investigation Team with Surrey Police, the Polish Police and the Office of the Department for Organised Crime and Corruption of the National Prosecutor’s Office in Bialystok, Poland.
Mariusz Moniuszko, 39, of Buttercup Close, Corby, Justyna Sieredzinska, 30, of Sycamore Close, Kettering and Dariusz Sieredzinski, 33, of Maidstone Road, Kent were found guilty yesterday (16 December) following a four-week trial at Guildford Crown Court.
On 20 September 2019 officers executed a warrant at The View, Sunbury-on-Thames where they discovered the trio’s first victim of sex trafficking. The victim, who is in her thirties, was forced to undertake sex work for years after being smuggled into the to the country from Poland by a criminal gang and being told she had debts to pay.
The victim, who was then safeguarded, worked with investigating officers to build a picture of the group’s criminal activity which spread across the UK. Three days later Moniuszko was arrested in Epsom.
In the months that followed, officers pursued this organised criminal group, gathering evidence about the extent of their activities and working with modern slavery charity Justice & Care to safeguard further victims. In addition to Moniuszko officers identified Sieredzinska and Sieredzinski as involved in controlling prostitution for gain and they were both arrested in July 2020.
Surrey Police recovered several laptops, mobile phones, credit cards, Polish identity cards and passports, and tenancy agreements. The Polish identity documents have all been confirmed as being lost or stolen by Polish authorities and in two cases the owners had died. These documents were used to secure residential tenancies for addresses that were turned into brothels and to open bank accounts to launder criminal proceeds.
All three were charged on 9 February 2021, with all three being remanded into custody. Sieredzinska was later released on bail by the court. Alongside the modern slavery offence, the charges include possessing criminal property through money found in cash or in their accounts. At an address in Epsom officers discovered a map annotated with the locations of brothels as well as £17,815.00 in cash, separated into envelopes with labels such as ‘Sunb’ and ‘Malden’ written on them. This correlated with ‘Sunbury-on-Thames’ and ‘New Malden’ which were highlighted on the map.
A detailed examination of financial records also identified money laundering networks and fraudulent companies formed to claim £90,000 in Covid Bounce Back Loans. Sieredzinski was convicted for two counts of fraud relating to Covid Bounce Back loans and this is the first time a case for Covid Bounce Back Loan fraud has been convicted in Surrey.
Throughout the investigation Surrey Police worked closely with partner forces including Yorkshire Police, Northamptonshire Police, the Metropolitan Police and the Polish Policja. In total 16 warrants were carried out which identified five brothels run by Moniuszko, Sieredzinska and Sieredzinski.
A trial at Guildford Crown Court began on Monday, 15 November.
Moniuszko was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, one count of facilitating the travel of another with a view to her being sexually exploited, one count of possessing criminal property to the value of £17,815, and fraud relating to the possession and use of the Polish identity documents.
Sieredzinska was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain and one count of possessing criminal property in the form of bank credits to the value of £20,440.80
Sieredzinski was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain, one count of possession of criminal property in the form of bank credits to the value of £13,019.56, two counts of possessing articles for use in fraud and two further counts of fraud which relate to two fraudulent COVID business bounce back loan applications totalling £90,000.
They are due to be sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on the 21 of January 2022.
During the investigation, officers also identified further individuals connected to the organised crime group.
Working in partnership Surrey Police, the Polish Policja have charged a 32-year-old man in Bialystok, Poland, for similar prostitution, modern slavery and criminal proceeds offences. He has since been remanded into Polish custody and is due to stand trial in 2022.
Detective Sergeant Martyn Linton, who has been investigating this case for over two years, said: “This criminal gang have made considerable sums of money from the exploitation of vulnerable people.
"We were able to build a strong case against this organised crime group and that’s in part thanks to the information provided by victims who bravely spoke out, as well as members of the public who got in touch when something didn’t seem right. We identified two of the brothels following information passed to us by the community.
"In one case, a fireman working near to one address reported a rotation of different men visiting the house during the day. If you’ve got concerns, I’d really encourage you to let us know as your piece of information might be key to helping us stop this often unseen crime.”
If you are concerned someone might be a victim of modern slavery, please report your suspicions to the police or in confidence to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
These are some of the signs that may indicate someone is being sexually exploited:
They may appear scared, withdrawn, confused or closely guarded
‘Branded’ with a tattoo indicating ownership and there might be physical signs of abuse
Unable to keep payment and have limited or no access to their earnings
Limited English vocabulary restricted to sexualised words
Men frequently visit a location and only stay for a short time
Signs of sexual activity, such as cards or advertisements nearby
Several female foreign nationals living at the same address
Sleeping at the premises where they work could indicate a brothel is operating