Over 100 brothels raided across island. The Puritans never grow up. There must be a law change.

By Conor Ryan and David Raleigh

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scores of houses and apartments were sensationally raided throughout
yesterday as gardaí sought to smash brothel-keeping businesses the
length and breadth of the island.

Large amounts of documents, cash, computers, and phones were seized by
more than 200 gardaí and 150 PSNI officers working as part of a
long-running investigation code-named Operation Quest.

In the Republic, searches were made on more than 110 houses and
apartments, with a particular emphasis on the lunchtime traffic for
these illegal businesses.

In a parallel operation in the North, the PSNI raided 20 houses and
made five arrests.

The raids began at dawn and were designed to target those directly
involved in running the brothels and laundering cash.

Gardaí stressed that the women discovered to be working as prostitutes
would be treated as witnesses or victims unless there was evidence
linking them to the organisation of the activity.

Following the first two stages of the operation, three people were
under arrest in Dublin.

One man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s were taken to Dundrum Garda
Station in Dublin for questioning.

Another woman, also in her 20s, was held at Store St Garda Station.

Superintendent John Gilligan of the Garda Press Office said the
operation was focused on those who made the profits from the trade.

“The majority of the brothels were in the South but there were also
some in the North so we enlisted the help of the PSNI.

“We are not focused on the prostitutes working in these brothels, we
are targeting those who are making a living off the earnings of the
prostitutes.”

In Limerick, more than 15 properties were raided and it is believed
that gardaí discovered women from England, Romania, Hungary, and
Brazil who were working as prostitutes.

Gardaí are hoping to work with these women to establish who was
running the brothels and controlling the businesses.

Gardaí had already arrested, prosecuted, and convicted several
individuals and criminal groups involved in this activity as part of
the ongoing operation.

The investigation has been in conjunction with the National Bureau of
Criminal Investigation, Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda Bureau of Fraud
Investigation, and Garda National Immigration Bureau.

In the North, 10 brothels were raided out of 20 premises searched. The
operation was believed to focus on the businesses of a number of
criminal gangs.

Three suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued and five
people were arrested. There were searches conducted in every one of
the six counties involving more than 150 PSNI officers.

PSNI Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said the co-ordinated
action demonstrated the commitment of his organisation and the gardaí
to crack down on prostitution.

“We are determined to actually do something about this problem. It is
not something society should stand for, it is a criminal offence, and
police do take it seriously,” he said.

Support and advocacy group Ruhama welcomed the actions taken by both
police services and the focus of the operation on the organisers of
the trade.

Its chief executive, Sarah Benson, said: “The particularly strong
message that is being put by the gardaí and the PSNI that the focus is
on the organisers and those making a profit is to be really strongly
welcomed.

“And the fact that they are recognising and acknowledging the women
involved are vulnerable persons and potential victims of trafficking.”