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Garda operation targets ‘pimp’ allegedly controlling sex workers and their earnings

During the operation some 46 people were identified as having allegedly purchased sexual services from an individual involved in prostitution

Robin SchillerSunday World

Gardaí are carrying out investigations into a "pimp" in the east of the country allegedly controlling sex workers and their earnings.

Another probe is underway in the south-west after concerns were raised that several women had been trafficked into Ireland to be sexually exploited.

The investigations were launched following two days of action by gardaí last week aimed at safeguarding sex workers across the country.

The intelligence led operations on Thursday and Friday focused on 16 garda divisions including Waterford, Kerry, Dublin, Longford, Donegal and Galway.

Five searches were carried out under warrant targeting organised prostitution with €3,000 and $500 seized from one man in the south-east in one raid.

The investigation was led by the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) supported by divisional units and local detectives.

Gardaí say that 65 safeguarding visits were carried out with a view to eliminating the possibility of sexual exploitation while 112 individual sex workers were offered welfare advice and encouraged to avail of expert services.

During the operation some 46 people were identified as having allegedly purchased sexual services from an individual involved in prostitution.

The introduction of Part 4 of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 legalised the sale of sex while its purchase is illegal.

As a result of the targeted actions a number of further investigations are now underway.

One enquiry has been launched into a "pimp" in the east of the country suspected of controlling sex workers and their earnings.

Separately gardaí are investigating the alleged trafficking of several women for sexual exploitation in the south-west.

Gardaí are also following a definite line of enquiry into the assault of a sex worker by a client after the incident was reported to a liaison officer with the Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit.

Files are currently being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecution in relation to a number of matters to determine if charges can be brought.

The operations last week are part of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence with gardaí also launching a text campaign in different languages to offer support to sex workers.

The head of the GNPSB, Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, said: "This ongoing work is all in an effort to strengthen our link with those involved in the sex trade in order to increase trust and raise greater awareness of the services that are available to them.

"The Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit within our bureau regularly carry out safeguarding checks of people who are involved in the sex trade.

"This is especially important so that gardaí can identify anyone who may be vulnerable or who is being sexually exploited or trafficked. Our unit is also cognisant of those who are working independently in the sex trade.

"Any person involved in the sex trade can be assured that An Garda Síochána is here to listen and will treat any report of a crime against them very seriously and sensitively – whether it is assault, theft or criminality of other kind," he added.


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