Gang guilty of trafficking women to work in brothel flats

Three people have been jailed for their involvement in a sex trafficking gang operating in Glasgow, Edinburgh and other parts of the UK.

Qin Huang, 31, Guolei Huang, 25, and Xiao Min, 38, were arrested and charged as part of Operation Fasthold, a joint Police Scotland and Home Office probe.

Multiple women, mainly from East Asia, had been exploited to provide sexual services between December 2018 and September 2021.

The first offenders now face lengthy jail-terms for their roles in the gang.

Qin Huang and Xiao Min pleaded guilty to a charge under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act, which prosecutors stated included "aiding and abetting prostitution".

And Guolei Huang admitted to a charge of being involved in the management of a brothel at two flats in Glasgow.

Judge Lady Poole remanded all three in custody pending sentencing next month.

Prosecutor Greg Farrell told the High Court in Glasgow: "Police uncovered a sophisticated and significant criminal network who were arranging, recruiting and facilitating prostitution.

"This also involved the transporting and harbouring of women working as prostitutes."

Mr Farrell said the gang made "significant financial proceeds" with the help of fake identifies to rent flats used as brothels.

The court heard how £200,000 had been spent on adverts on the Viva Street adult site by a so-called "business agency" firm.

Mr Farrell told the court: "There is no evidence to suggest any of the three provided the financing for these."

'Chinese brothel'

He said Qin Huang was involved in the "daily management" of the women and the sex-for-sale properties and also helped organise the online adverts.

Guolei Huang was a "minder" while Xiao Min had a "supervisor" role in the renting of the properties.

In February 2020, police learned a flat in Glasgow's Dennistoun was being run as what was described as a "Chinese brothel".

Officers carried out a raid months later and Guolei Huang was there along with one of the trafficked women.

"It had been equipped and set up for the provision of sexual services," said Mr Farrell.

"This included having a bed with towels on it and a side table with condoms, wipes and baby oil on display."

Three more brothels was discovered in the city's Garnethill, Dennistoun and Port Dundas areas and another one was found in Edinburgh's Old Town.

In May 2021, it was then found that Qin Huang was operating from a new premises for "sexual exploitation" in Glasgow's Townhead.

Another sex-for-sale flat was discovered in Kelvinbridge.

The court heard of five women who were brought to the UK by the gang.

Two were in debt in China, another was "recruited" after having been approached in a casino.

A fourth woman had her passport taken from her before being helped to "establish" herself as a sex worker.

And a fifth woman said she arrived in England in 2019 and had been working "illegally" there before being "recommended" to travel to Scotland.

Det Insp Mark Dines said: “Human trafficking is a despicable crime that has an unmeasurable long-term impact on its victims.

“We are committed to working with our partners to conduct thorough investigations, to identify those responsible and to protect vulnerable victims from harm."

He added the force worked with the Home Office Criminal and Financial Investigation Team as as well as officers from the Metropolitan Police and Cambridgeshire Constabulary during the investigation.