Gardaí and PSNI raid 140 brothels
GARDAÍ AND the PSNI have carried out the biggest ever crackdown against the vice trade across the island of Ireland, raiding 140 brothels and related properties in a day-long operation targeting Irish and foreign prostitution syndicates.
Some 120 of the raids were carried out in the Republic, mostly targeting major urban centres but including searches in almost every county in the country.
The cross-border operation – run in the Republic under the anti-vice Operation Quest – was spearheaded by the Garda’s Organised Crime Unit. It is unprecedented in scale.
The brothels were being operated from apartments, houses and in some cases hotels. Some of the gangs specialised in offering sex for sale during lunchtime.
There were raids in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Donegal and Meath, as well as many other counties.
The gangs targeted are spearheaded by leading criminals from the Republic and the North, though gang leaders from Eastern Europe and Africa are also involved.
Sources said while many of the women working in the brothels were living in the North or the Republic legally, others had been trafficked in and had been sold between gangs.
The raids began before first light yesterday and were ongoing last night. Three people were in custody yesterday evening: two women in their 20s and a man in his 40s.
A large amount of documentation, cash, mobile phones and computers was also seized.
Gardaí said the low number of arrests underlined that the women found in the raided brothels were not the focus of the operation.
The searches followed months of planning by all of the main specialist Garda units and were informed by intelligence gathered in every Garda division across the country.
As well as the Organised Crime Unit leading the investigation, yesterday’s searches involved members of the Criminal Assets Bureau, National Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Garda National Immigration Bureau.
The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is also involved in investigating the gangs’ international money-laundering operations.