Two men and one womam who were part of a Romanian crime gang have been found guilty of trafficking women into the UK and setting up a brothel in Swindon.

On Tuesday, November 28, two men and one woman were found guilty of modern slavery and human trafficking offences following a ten-week trial at Winchester Crown Court.

Gigi Ciobanica, 46, of Grasmere Road, Birmingham, was found guilty of conspiracy to engage in human trafficking and money laundering.Swindon Advertiser: Priyantha Yakdehige, 54, of Vasterne Close, Purton, was found guilty of conspiracy to engage in human trafficking and pleaded guilty to money laundering.Swindon Advertiser: Cristina Olaru, 31, of Commercial Road, Swindon, was found guilty of controlling prostitution for gain and money laundering.Swindon Advertiser:

An investigation into these crimes has been ongoing since 2015.

The young women were trafficked by the organised crime gang from Romania to the UK in which they were put to work at brothels in Swindon.

Their victims worked at addresses which were owned by Yakdehige. The leaders of the gang, Ciobanica and Olaru, rented these properties, controlled the workers and took a cut of the money earned.

DS Richard Nelsen from the Serious and Organised Crime Unit explained that along with owning the addresses, Yakdehige would arrange and pay for flights. He would also arrange accommodation for members of the gang to live and work in.

Yakdehige made the wide criminal enterprise possible, and he was integral to the gang's operation. He also profited from the brothels that were in place and was aware of what was going on.

DS Nelsen also identified Ciobanica as the crime boss who led the gang and controlled the network of sex workers.

Ciobanica “ensured the transportation, housing and activity of the exploited females was managed to ensure he profited directly and substantially".

"He would funnel the money back to Romania to construct property in his name, whilst evading taxation and stealing from those he exploited,” said DS Nelsen.

Olaru was the partner of Ciobanica at the time and controlled the listings of the sex workers as well as arranging what addresses the sex workers would be located in.

DS Nelsen said: “This group has been dismantled within Swindon and the sentencing will send a further message to those who wish to engage in this criminality.

“The police cannot tackle this problem on our own and I would encourage members of our community to report any concerns or suspicions they have of such activity to their local Neighbourhood Teams or via 101 unless an emergency.”

The trio will be sentenced on February 2, 2024.