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investigating attacks Gardai establish specialised unit targeting organised criminals within the sex trade

The Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit, formally known as and operating as Operation Quest, will police all aspects of organised criminality within the sex trade.

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GARDAÍ have set up a specialist unit to target organised criminals involved in Ireland’s multi-million euro sex-trade.

The move is aimed at “protecting vulnerable persons, including victims of human trafficking involved in prostitution in Ireland.”

“This will be achieved by, tackling crime gangs involved in organisation of prostitution, by targeting the demand for prostitution and by safeguarding those persons trafficked for sexual exploitation,” a garda spokesperson said.

The unit have already been involved in targeting the vice trade including one case before the courts involving a 44-year-old male and a 26-year-old female.

They are charged with multiple offences including brothel keeping, money laundering and fraud related offences in the greater Dublin area.

They have also warned the unit will also enforce the law that makes it illegal to purchase sex designed to curb the demand for prostitution.

The Organised Prostitution Investigation Unit, formerly known as and operating as Operation Quest, is attached to the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

At least a dozen criminal gangs are believed to dominate Ireland’s sex trade, from running brothels and trafficking women to sourcing apartments and hotel rooms, according to Sunday World sources.

A report last year by the Sexual Exploitation Research Programme at UCD also laid bare the brutal reality of Ireland’s sex trade.

“Indeed, for some of the organised crime gangs involved in the sex trade in Ireland, prostitution is just one of the ‘businesses’ they are profiting from, as revealed by a series of recent CAB raids and other Garda operations during 2020,” it stated

The Garda National Protective Services Bureau has also been active in investigating attacks on persons in the sex trade and a number of people are before the courts.

Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly said "A physical or sexual assault on a prostitute is a serious crime and an attack on a vulnerable person in the community.”

“Any person who commits such an attack can expect to be subject to a criminal investigation. Those persons who seek out and purchase sexual services also commit a criminal offence and will be prosecuted”.

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They added they are aware that significant number of serious assaults go unreported and "encourage those in the sex trade to report all such attacks.”

Chief Superintendent Daly last year told the Sunday World extra staff were being drafted in to target prostitution and trafficking.

"It's an area that's going to get favoritism in terms of allocation of resources, because it needs it. We are about addressing the harm and that's where the harm is, and that's where we need to have our focus," he said.

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