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Romas Drulia jailed for trafficking women into UK for sexual exploitation

A man who brought women into the country from Lithuania to work as prostitutes in brothels has been jailed for four and a half years.

Romas Drulia moved women between houses in Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Maidstone over a period of two and a half years.

Maidstone Crown Court heard the 35-year-old Lithuanian, his girlfriend, Aurelija Antanaityte, and his friend, Tomas Ziemys, also ran a number of other brothels.

Romas Drulia. Pic: Kent Police
Romas Drulia. Pic: Kent Police

The young women would answer adverts for masseuses or vegetable packers only to find they were plunged into the sex trade when they arrived in the UK.

One was taken to a flat in St Mary’s Island in Chatham and warned she would “have a funeral to look forward to” if she did not do as she was asked.

“One was also told by Drulia about girls going missing and having their bones broken,” said prosecutor James Lofthouse.

Others were warned they had to work as prostitutes for four months or hand over £1,000 before they could leave.

Clients were charged £50 for 15 minutes and £120 for an hour. The women had to hand over 50 per cent of their earnings to the bosses and pay £70 a week for rent.

“The girls were left to the day-to-day running of the brothel while the bosses would make the arrangements,” said Mr Lofthouse. “They were told to wear make-up and be nice.”

Two brothels were closed down after neighbours or other tenants complained.

Three women were found to be working at the Maidstone brothel when it was raided in April 2015 and another three were at a Chatham house two months later.

Drulia, who came to the UK in 2000 and previously worked as a driver and in the building trade, fled the country with his pregnant girlfriend but was arrested on a European warrant in Poland in February and extradited back.

He admitted two offences of trafficking for sexual exploitation between December 1 2014 and April 29 2015 and four of keeping a brothel for prostitution between March 1 2013 and July 28 2015.

He also admitted six charges of controlling prostitution for gain between April 1 2013 and October 16 2015.

"The victims were offered hope of a new life with better prospects but instead they were forced to illegally work as prostitutes" - Det Sgt Jason Booth

The brothels were in a flat in Century Court, Rochester, a house in Watersmeet, Chatham, above an Indian takeaway in Watling Street, Gillingham, and at a house in Clifford Way, Maidstone.

But Drulia claimed he was only providing security and collecting money.

He said he was paid up to £400 a week by Ziemys, 31, who was jailed in April last year for three and a half years after being convicted of two offences of controlling prostitution for gain and seven of managing brothels.

Judge Jeremy Carey said Drulia, of no fixed address, would be deported after serving half his sentence.

His girlfriend gave birth to their child in October 2015 and was placed under house arrest in Lithuania in February, but Mr Lofthouse said it was unlikely she would be extradited to also face charges.

Judge Carey said Drulia controlled prostitutes and in one case made threats of violence to one to ensure she acted as required.

“So you were in the thick of this - in the thick of criminal activity for your own benefit,” he said. “I reject the contention that somehow you were paid a flat rate by Mr Ziemys.

“I judge you were in a more serious position in terms of culpability and the harm you caused. Although involved for the same period, your criminality is wider ranging.

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court
The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

“I reject altogether the proposition that somehow you had no choice or were in financially straightened circumstances which caused you to take up this criminal trade.

“You had a choice of whether to use your not inconsiderable skills in the building trade or as a driver. But you chose the criminal path and must take the consequences.”

The judge added: “Your criminality preys on those who are vulnerable to the demands which are made in the sex trade. You and Mr Ziemys were exploiting that vulnerability.”

Det Sgt Jason Booth, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Drulia was involved in an organised criminal network that cruelly and unscrupulously exploited women.

"The victims were offered hope of a new life with better prospects but instead they were forced to illegally work as prostitutes.

"Outside of their home countries, there was no one around to support these women and that was a vulnerability that Drulia exploited for financial gain.

"Thankfully the victims have now returned to their families and are receiving the support they need.

"The suffering they were subjected to is no less than modern day slavery, something we as a police force are working tirelessly to eradicate.

"I would encourage anyone who suspects a brothel is being run in their community to contact us. All reports will be investigated with the utmost sensitivity."

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