A couple who made more than a million pounds running a cluster of brothels exploiting vulnerable South East Asian women were yesterday sentenced total of five and a half years in prison by a judge at Croydon Crown Court.
Michael Dalton, 44, and Nikki Chen, 56, received the jail terms after being convicted of a string of offences, including conspiracy to traffick within the UK for sexual exploitation.
The court heard how, over a six year period, the two ran four brothels in south and west London, in which young women brought into the UK illegally were ‘controlled’ and ‘obliged’ to prostitute themselves for between £60 and £120 an hour in order to pay off their debts.
Dalton and Chen then used most of the money raised through their criminal activities to fund their own ‘lavish’ lifestyles, which included owning properties in Gloucestershire and Surrey, as well as luxury Mercedes and Lamborghini sports cars.
Yesterday, His Honour Judge Flahive jailed Dalton for three years for prostitution for gain, 21 months for conspiracy to traffick in the UK, and 18 months for money laundering.
Chen received sentences of two and a half years, 18 months, and two years for the same respective offences. All sentences will run concurrently.
The pair were caught after an extended police investigation, codenamed Operation Icefall, during which officers conducted surveillance on the brothels, observing ‘at least a dozen’ customers visiting each day.
The properties were subsequently raided and closed down by authorities.
Two accomplices of Dalton and Chen have also been convicted for their part in the scheme. Manjit Singh, 33, and Ian Garrett, 43 were previously found guilty of conspiracy to traffick within the UK for sexual exploitation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Martin, head of the Metropolitan Police Human Exploitation and Organised Crime Command, said: “Chen, Dalton and their co-conspirators had a blatant disregard for the women they had brought into, and moved around the UK, with the promise of a better life.”
“The young women they controlled were exploited and obliged to have sex with in excess of 12 strangers a day, in order to pay off the debts they had accrued in being trafficked to the UK on false passports and visas. Some did not know that they would have to work as prostitutes in the UK.”
“Nikki Chen and Michael Dalton took the vast majority of the cash they made through their illegal activities to fund their lavish lifestyles, living in expensive houses and driving luxury sports cars.”
“Fortunately, their criminality came to our attention and they have now been convicted for the fear and exploitation they caused.”
Case officer Detective Constable Christopher Ansell added: “Nikki Chen and Michael Dalton were partners who exploited young and vulnerable women from abroad, making them work as prostitutes at brothels in the suburbs of London and Surrey.”
“The investigation revealed that some of the women were in debt bondage ranging from £25,000 upwards. This allowed the pair to line their own pockets and sustain a lavish lifestyle over a period of six years.”
“Anybody being violated by criminals like Chen and Dalton should not be afraid to come forward and tell police how they are being forced to live. Their safety and that of their loved ones will be at the forefront of our investigation.”