Gardaí quiz clients after brothel crackdown

Gardaí targeting brothel operators are interviewing prostitutes and clients caught red-handed during a nationwide crackdown on brothels.

Gardaí conducted 110 searches on Tuesday under a joint operation with the PSNI, which carried out 20 raids in the North.

Three women — all Polish — pleaded guilty yesterday in Belfast torunning a brothel there.

A number of suspected brothel organisers were arrested in the Republic, including two Hungarian women, and a Chinese woman in Dublin.

There were 14 searches in Cork and more than 15 in Limerick.

Nineteen searches were also conducted in the South-East, across counties Tipperary, Kilkenny, Carlow, Waterford, and Wexford.

While complete figures were not available for Dublin, at least 18 searches were conducted.

Six searches were carried out in Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

In the South-East — where detectives have been conducting an ongoing investigation which fed in to Operation Quest — officers say Romanian nationals are heavily involved in organising the trade.

Gardaí in each division are collating and analysing a large amount of seized documentation, laptops and mobile phones.

Significant amounts of cash were also confiscated.

An unknown number of prostitutes were spoken to by gardaí and their immigration details were checked. They will not face prosecution but may become witnesses.

An unknown number of men, said by gardaí to be “availing of services”, had statements taken from them at the scenes.

They were not arrested, but their personal details were taken.

They will either face charges or become involved as witnesses.

“This operation was targeted at the organisers, not the women involved in prostitution,” said a Garda source.

“Part of this will entail assessing if there was human trafficking, which will involve interviewing the women.”

Of the 14 searches in Cork City, all were in or around the city centre.

Gardaí seized 250 exhibits, including a large number of mobile phones, including 29 phones in one location.

They spoke to 25 women and five male clients. A few thousand euro in cash was also taken away.

Operation Quest was conducted by the Organised Crime Unit in conjunction with local divisions.

The Garda National Immigration Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, and the Criminal Assets Bureau were also involved.

In Belfast, Sandra Polewska and Milena Tarnowska, both aged 23, and 27-year-old Marta Kozakowska, pleaded guilty to running a brothel.

The women, all Polish nationals, each received suspended two-month prison sentences.

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