Northern Ireland

Romanian pair jailed for controlling prostitution and people trafficking

Ilie Ionut and Ancuta Schwarz were arrested three years ago as part of a joint investigation involving the PSNI and Swedish police Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Ionut Ilie and Ancuta Schwarz were arrested three years ago as part of a joint investigation involving the PSNI and Swedish police

A Romanian man and woman have been jailed on charges of controlling prostitution and people trafficking in Northern Ireland.

Ionut Ilie (34) and Ancuta Schwarz (30) were arrested three years ago as part of a joint investigation involving the PSNI and Swedish police.

Ilie was arrested in Romania and Schwarz was arrested in Belfast.

They were taken to Sweden, where they were imprisoned on the same set of offences, involving the same victim.

During the court proceedings in Sweden, the victim, who is in her 20s and was trafficked from her home in Romania, revealed how she thought she was being brought to Ireland for legitimate work.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Ancuta Schwarz, who was arrested in Belfast, admitted charges of controlling prostitution

In fact, she was forced to work in brothels in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, before being moved to Sweden.

After the Swedish sentences had been served, Ilie and Schwarz were extradited to Northern Ireland earlier this year.

At Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday, they pleaded guilty to charges of human trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering and were each sentenced to two years.

The pair were ordered to serve eight months in prison with the remainder spent on supervised licence.

Prior to Tuesday's sentencing, they spent six months in custody in Northern Ireland.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Ionut Ilie and his co-accused Ancuta Schwarz will serve eight months of a two year sentence in prison

PSNI Det Ch Insp Douglas Grant, from Serious Crime Branch, said officers carried out an arrest and search operation in Belfast in April 2013, as a result of which 13 trafficking victims were rescued.

Welcoming the sentences, he said: "Working with law enforcement colleagues in various parts of Europe, we believe we have halted the activities of an organised crime gang involved in controlling prostitution and human trafficking in Northern Ireland, Sweden and Romania."

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