THREE suspected brothels in Eastbourne were raided by police and immigration officials this week amid allegations that people are being put to work as prostitutes against their will.
Properties in Ashford Road, Royal Parade and Northbourne Road were targeted in the crackdown on people trafficking to the UK from poorer countries.
Two men and one woman were arrested on suspicion of running brothels and three female workers, one Chinese, one English and a Russian were found in the alleged brothels.
They were not arrested and are being treated as witnesses.
Police say the addresses in Royal Parade and Ashford Square were being run as brothels while Northbourne Road was the home address of two of the suspects.
A 32-year-old man, a 49-year old man and a 43-year-old woman, all from Eastbourne, remain in custody for questioning.
The raids took place on Wednesday morning and involved officers from Sussex Police and the UK Border Agency.
Three search warrants were executed under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and police say the aim was to ‘target and disrupt’ those engaged in people trafficking either into or within the United Kingdom for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Inspector Adam Hays said, “I am pleased with the results of today’s joint operation between Sussex Police and the UK Border Agency.
“The execution of these warrants is part of our continued determination to bring to justice those involved in people trafficking.
“The operation was low key and intended to disrupt premises that we believe or suspect are being used to sexually exploit men and women under the cover of a legitimate premises.
“Those being exploited are often brought to the UK from poorer countries and, as a consequence, they are either unaware that they are being exploited or they may not outwardly object to being so exploited.
“In some cases they are juveniles with little concept of how they are being treated.
“Sussex Police will not prosecute these individuals, they are victims of crime and are treated as such.
“The purpose of the operation is to target, disrupt and prosecute their handlers and those involved in orchestrating and perpetuating what is an international criminal enterprise.”
Daniel Searle, head of the UK Border Agency’s Sussex Local Immigration Team, said, “Human trafficking is a shocking and brutal form of organised crime where victims may be coerced, deceived or forced into the control of others who cruelly and inhumanely seek to profit from their suffering.
“Working with the police and other law enforcement agencies the UK Border Agency is determined to make Britain a more hostile place for people traffickers.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 0845 60 70 999 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.