Published: 12:13, 18 January 2019
| Updated: 12:29, 18 January 2019
A married couple have been jailed for running a brothel from their home.
Hongnan Wu, 39, and his wife Yafen Zheng, 41, were arrested on three separate occasions last summer after detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate were alerted to suspicious activity at their flat in Barrier Road, Chatham.
The first occasion was on Friday, July 27, when a pre-planned warrant was carried out at the property.
A woman believed to be a sex worker was inside at the time and items including contraceptives and bottles of massage oil were found.
Wu and Zheng were released from custody while officers carried out more inquiries but were arrested again on Friday, August 17, after concerns were raised that the flat was still being run as a brothel.
A different suspected sex worker was at the property, where £160 cash was found hidden underneath a sofa cushion. A further £50 cash was later found hidden inside Zheng’s bra.
The couple were arrested once more on Monday, August 20, after more concerns were reported.
This time, a man was found lying on a bed with another suspected sex worker.
It is believed he was shown into the flat by Wu after responding to an online advert for sexual services.
Wu and Zheng were both charged with controlling prostitution for gain, which they admitted.
Yesterday, they werejailed for 14 months each at Maidstone Crown Court.
Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Kristian Eberlein said: "Hongnan Wu and Yafen Zheng initially denied any knowledge of there being a brothel inside their flat but they had little choice but to plead guilty when faced with the compelling evidence against them.
"We became aware of this couple as part of our inquiries into a number of other brothels in Kent that we believe were being run by members of an organised crime group and potentially linked to the sexual trafficking of Chinese women.
"Victims are at the heart of everything we do and I strongly encourage anyone who suspects a brothel is being run in their area to report it to us by visiting www.kent.police.uk/report or by calling 101.
"Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555111."
More by this authorNikki White