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The teenage slaves in UK nail bars
January 04, 2018
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LONDON: Members of one of the most sophisticated modern slavery gangs ever caught in Britain have been jailed in a case that used new laws against enforced labour for the first time.

Police warned other trafficked victims are being “hidden in plain sight” in nail bars across the country, with money from unsuspecting customers funding organised crime.

Three members of a Vietnamese gang uncovered in Bath were jailed for a total of nine years for forcing teenage girls to work without pay and keeping them in squalid conditions.

They transferred their victims to beauty parlours across England while dumping phones in efforts to evade police, sparking an intelligence operation involving the National Crime Agency.

Investigators said they had just scratched the surface of a far-reaching criminal underworld that sees girls bound to their abusers “by invisible chains.”

Detective Inspector Charlotte Tucker, who led the operation for Avon and Somerset Police, said teenage girls were being “moved around as commodities” as part of sophisticated money-making enterprises.

“We’ve got three people convicted out of this group, we haven’t got all of them,” she told The Independent.

“I think we are just scratching the surface on this.” Thu Huong Nguyen, a 48-year-old Vietnamese woman known as Jenny, was jailed for five years for conspiring to facilitate the movement of people for labour exploitation and require others to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Judge Michael Chambers QC told the defendants they were “devious and manipulative” at a hearing on Tuesday, saying they treated the victims as commodities and exploited them for “pure economic greed.”

Viet Hoang Nguyen (Ken), 29, and Giang Huong Tran (Susan), 23, also were also sentenced for conspiracy to require others to perform forced or compulsory labour at Stafford Crown Court.

Ken was jailed for conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the movement of people for labour exploitation. He was jailed for four years and Susan was given a two-year suspended sentence. Investigators believe their “cash-only” nail bars are a fraction of those run by gangs using them to launder money from cannabis factories and other criminal activity in the UK.

No links were proven in the Bath case, but Jenny could not explain the origin of £60,000 that had been hidden inside a rabbit soft toy at her home in Southdown Road, Bath.

The Independent
 

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