Two Scots jailed over UK sex trafficking offences
A man and woman from Scotland have been jailed for a total of almost five years for trafficking men and women into prostitution across the UK.
Stephen Craig, 34, and Sarah Beukan, 22, admitted moving 14 men and women to addresses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and Newcastle.
Their prosecution was the first in Scotland for human trafficking.
At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Craig was jailed for three years and eight months and Beukan was sentenced to 18 months.
Craig, from Clydebank, and Beukan of Leith, Edinburgh, were caught during after a joint operation - code named Factor - by Strathclyde Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).
Brothels across the UK were raided and trafficking victims rescued.
The pair pleaded guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court last month, saving more than 200 witnesses from giving evidence at the scheduled trial.
Craig had originally been prosecuted in Northern Ireland before the proceedings were transferred to Scotland.
He admitted sex trafficking between January 2009 and September 2010.
He now faces proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act after making money from his part in the operation.
Beukan, who was in a relationship with Craig during the time she worked for him as a prostitute, admitted committing the offence between October 2009 and September 2010.
Both were the first to be charged under section 22 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, new legislation designed to deal with a range of offences involving "traffic for prostitution".
The pair were caught after travel documents, internet and newspaper advertising, telecoms evidence and pre-paid credit cards which linked them to each other and key witnesses - who were sex workers - were found.
The court was told that the "most significant" sources were accounts provided to police by prostitutes recruited to the criminal operation by Craig.
After being employed by Craig they were housed in the various modern flats rented by him for the purpose of prostitution.
In each flat, at least two or three prostitutes would work charging approximately £150 for an hour and £90 for half an hour.
Craig would then take a percentage - £30 for every half hour and £40 for every hour in relation to each client.
It was heard that outwith Glasgow, money would either be brought back with prostitutes and given to Craig or transferred by pre-paid credit cards.
Accounts were given to the police by a Bolivian woman and a Belfast woman studying medicine at a top Scottish university, who turned to prostitution after experiencing financial difficulties.
It was also heard that a mobile phone was kept in each house and used to place more than £54,000 of adverts, which was set up and paid for by Craig.
Speaking after the pair were jailed, the Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland QC, said: "Stephen Craig and Ashleigh Beukan took part in a criminal prostitution operation that spanned the United Kingdom.
"This is a landmark conviction for human trafficking in Scotland and represents the success of close working between police and prosecutors across the UK.
"It is only thanks to the hard work of Strathclyde Police, PSNI and other forces and agencies that organised crime of this nature can be detected, their activity stopped and the perpetrators brought to justice."
John Rea, assistant director, Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland, said: "This is an excellent example of how close collaboration across jurisdictions and criminal justice agencies can deal effectively with organised criminal gangs who aim to exploit every opportunity to evade detection."