Published: 14:16, 19 February 2021
| Updated: 22:35, 19 February 2021
Twelve people have been arrested after properties in Kent were raided as part of an investigation into the exploitation of sex workers.
Body-worn camera footage shows police storming a property in Woolwich as part of the investigation
Kent Police detectives, supported by officers from local policing teams, also recovered more than £35,000 in cash, along with phones and paperwork while executing the search warrants.
Another raid in Woolwich, south east London, led to the arrest of a 44-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man, both from the capital. A woman was arrested for immigration offences.
All have been released under investigation, while two women were also safeguarded as a result of the work.
As a result, a 36-year-old man from Maidstone was arrested.
Two properties were also searched in London, which led to the arrest of three women, two in their 40s and one in her 50s.
Two women were also arrested for immigration offences and a further two women were safeguarded.
Detectives have since charged London residents Yan Ping Zhu, 43; Chun Ping Shao, 50 and Feng Zhu Lin, 45, with controlling prostitution for gain and acquiring criminal property.
All three women are from London and have been remanded in custody to appear at court at a later date.
Police say they are committed to investigating people behind the arrangement of services that seek to manipulate vulnerable women into providing sexual services for financial gain.
Det Insp Kristian Eberlein from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s rare that victims come forward.
"The exploitation of sex workers is often linked to organised national and international crime networks, involved in human trafficking, drugs and money laundering.
'Modern slavery is a hidden crime and it’s rare that victims come forward...'
"Safeguarding vulnerable victims is at the forefront of the work we carry out and officers work alongside partners and charities to shut down suspected brothels and identify those being exploited on a regular basis.
"Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, sexual services have continued to be advertised in Kent with people completely undeterred by the government’s guidelines. This gives way for more and more vulnerable women to be taken advantage of.
"We want to help victims who are being pressured into offering these services against their will and can’t find a way out.
"That is why it is important we look at all the ways we can disrupt this criminal activity and identify and prosecute the ring leaders responsible for the setting up of such services and the wider exploitation."