THREE people will stand trial over allegations they were part of a gang trafficking girls from Romania to work in the Swindon sex industry.

Romanians Cristina Olaru and Victoria Olaru and Purton landlord Priyantha Yakdehige all deny involvement in the conspiracy.

Prosecutors claim the trio were part of a criminal gang that trafficked woman from eastern Europe to the UK between 2015 and 2018. The proceeds were said to have been hidden from HMRC and transferred back to Romania.

Appearing before Swindon Crown Court on Friday, Priyantha Yakdehige, 52, of Vasterne Close, Purton, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to engage in human trafficking, assisting in the management of brothels and money laundering. It is said he rented out properties in Whitehead Street and Rochford Close, Swindon, to be used as brothels.

Cristina Olaru, 28, of Oakwood Road, Eastleaze, denies conspiracy to engage in human trafficking, controlling prosecution for gain and money laundering.

Victoria Olaru, 24, of Rovinari, Romania, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to engage in human trafficking and money laundering.

The offences are said to have been committed between 2013 and November 2018.

Judge Peter Crabtree granted the three defendants unconditional bail to return to the crown court for a case management hearing on March 1, 2021. A trial date is expected to be fixed next year.

Arrest warrants are out for a further two alleged members of the conspiracy: Gigi Ciobanica, 43, of Oakwood Road, Eastleaze, and Danut Cretu, 25, of no fixed address.

The case follows a series of raids on suspected brothels across Swindon in November 2018. Five people were identified as potential victims of modern slavery.

Following those raids, Det Insp Mark Wilkinson of Wiltshire Police’s serious crime department, said: “The public can help make it harder for people that want to exploit others by being vigilant. For example, if they see a stream of different men visiting an address at all hours of the day or night it may be an indicator that the address is being used as a brothel.

“They might see workers appear to be distressed, anxious, disorientated, or withdrawn. They could be potential victims of human trafficking or other exploitation.”