A police swoop on a Burton nail bar during an investigation into human trafficking traced two vulnerable young Vietnamese women who were being exploited for labour purposes, a court heard.
Three people - a married couple from Burton and one from Bath - who were involved in a criminal operation which saw young Vietnamese women forced to work in nail bars across the country have been found guilty of offences under the Modern Slavery Act.
The investigation into the sophisticated operation, which involved five police forces and the National Crime Agency, began after officers took part in a multi-agency welfare visit to the Nail Bar Deluxe in Bath city centre in February 2016.
Two women and a man were convicted by a jury on Friday, November 3, following an eight-week trial held at Stafford Crown Court.
Two young women, aged 17 and 18, were placed into the care of social services following the Avon and Somerset Police operation in Bath. When the women went missing from care, inquiries and intelligence work traced their movements to the Birmingham area and then onto the nail bar in Burton.
In a joint investigation by Staffordshire Police and Avon and Somerset Police, arrests were made at the nail bar in Abbey Arcade, Burton. Two vulnerable young women, aged 16 and 17, who were also being exploited for labour purposes, were found at the premises.
Viet Hoang Nguyen, 29, and Giang Huong Tran, 23, both of Barker Round Way, Burton, have now been convicted of trafficking offences.
Viet Hoang Nguyen (known as Ken) was found guilty of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the movement of people for labour exploitation.
Both Viet Hoang Nguyen and his wife, Giang Huong Tran (known as Susan) were found guilty of conspiracy to require others to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Thu Huong Nguyen, (known as Jenny), 48, of Southdown Road, Bath, was found guilty of conspiring to arrange or facilitate the movement of people for labour exploitation. She was also found guilty of conspiring to require others to perform forced or compulsory labour.
Cash in excess of £60,000 in £50 notes was found stuffed inside a teddy bear in a wardrobe at Thu Huong Nguyen’s home.
Viet Hoang Nguyen and Thu Huong Nguyen were remanded in custody. Giang Huong Tran was granted conditional bail. Sentencing will take place at Stafford Crown Court on January 2, 2018.
DI Clair Langley, of Staffordshire Police, said: "This has been a significant and extensive investigation and a prime example of how police forces have to work together to target the traffickers.
"This investigation has been extremely challenging and recognition must be given to the police and prosecution teams involved across the UK regions to reach this successful outcome.
"The hard work, commitment and tenacity of the staff involved deserves great credit. We are delighted to have achieved this result and are proud that these perpetrators have now been brought to justice."
DI Charlotte Tucker, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: "This operation expanded rapidly and the national scale of the trafficking operation became clear, with links made to Bath, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Burton, Derbyshire and London.
"Through detailed analysis and intelligence work we were able to connect all the defendants to each other and prove they were involved in the movement of young girls across the country to work in nail bars.
"Four victims have been identified so far, but we believe there will inevitably be more victims out there.
"These girls have had difficult and traumatic childhoods and were treated by traffickers as mere commodities – forced to live and work in unsuitable conditions, with little or no pay, and enduring both physical and verbal abuse."
Unseen has launched a UK Modern Slavery Helpline. If you’re concerned for someone or are experiencing slavery please call 08000 121 700 for confidential advice, or you can text 21700, or visit www.modernslaveryhelpline.org
- The Burton Mail would like to clarify that the current owners of the nail bar are not in any way connected with the incident and only took over the business in May 2016, months after this raid. We are happy to set the record straight.