A gang involved in the trafficking of vulnerable women into Scotland for prostitution has been jailed for a total of 31 years.
Jagpal Singh, 52, his partner Donglin Zhang, 49, along with Vlassis Ntaoulias, 33, and Boonsong Wannas, 63, lured victims from China and Thailand with the promise of legitimate employment.
But, instead the women had passports taken from them and then forced to work in brothels across Glasgow.
The four returned to the dock following a trial last month.
Singh, Zhang and Ntaoulias were convicted of human trafficking. Wannas had earlier admitted to the same charge.
The crime spanned between August 2018 and February 2020.
Singh was jailed for ten years at the High Court in Glasgow.
He had also been convicted of a charge of keeping a brothel.
Zhang was sentenced to eight years. She had also been found guilty of the brothel charge as well as aiding and abetting prostitution.
Ntaoulias meantime was locked up for seven years.
Wannas was jailed for six years and four months. She too had been convicted of being involved in the running of a brothel.
Judge Douglas Brown told them: “You have been convicted or admitted human trafficking with a number of women being exploited through prostitution.
“The deliberate degrading of a fellow human being is a dehumanising experience for the victims.
“It deprived them of their ability to act on their own…instead being viewed as a potential source of profit.
“It is rarely easy for a person exploited in this way to complain about their treatment or report matters particularly in an unfamiliar country.”
The judge added substantial jail terms had to be imposed to try and stop others getting involved in preying on people for “money making”.
They showed no emotion as they were handcuffed to the cells other than an angry Zhang who ranted loudly in her own language. Detectives had snared the trafficking gang following a probe in 2020.
Three women bravely recounted their ordeals at their hands, but a number of others are also thought to have suffered.
A number of lucrative sex for sale flats had been used – one in Glasgow’s Albion Street and another city centre property in Oswald Street.
There were others in Charlotte Street in the east end, one in Cathcart Road in the southside with a fifth in Linden Street in the west of the city.
One victim told jurors that she was brought to Glasgow from China in September 2018.
She believed she would be employed as a dishwasher, baby sitter or do massage work.
But, she recalled being ferried to a city centre flat and her passport seized by Zhang – branded the “female boss”.
The woman stated she initially did cleaning work but was not paid. She was then taken to a second flat by Singh and Zhang who ordered her to sell her body.
The woman stated: “I said no and she said if you don’t listen to me…I will make sure you never go back to China.”
She went on to meet men “everyday” at the apartment or in hotels.
The woman stated there was not a “fixed amount” of visits per day adding: “Sometimes just a couple, sometimes quite a few, quite a lot some days, some days no one.”
A second Chinese woman – who spoke no English – was targeted in a similar way.
She described feeling she had “no choice”. Jurors heard how some punters who paid for sex complained she was not “good enough”.
Singh then demanded she “work better” or she would not get fed.
He also gained control over the woman by telling her that he knew people in the Home Office.
She claimed she was “drugged and raped” by Singh who faced an allegation of the attack which was removed by prosecutors during the trial.
Singh and Ntaoulias – who ran an Airbnb property business – meantime exchanged messages where they spoke about “new fresh Chinese girls.”
Property manager James Taylor told jurors that he encountered two Chinese women in nightdresses during an inspection of Singh’s Albion Street flat.
He stated the property contained CCTV and a dentist style waiting area outside two bedrooms – one of which contained a naked Glaswegian man.
Mr Taylor said he was taken to another of Singh’s flats where he saw six mobile phones and a Chinese woman enter with leather trousers.
Singh eventually left Scotland, but his lover Zhang and Ntaoulias kept the prostitution racket going.
Ntaoulias and Wannas were meantime involved in the brothel at Charlotte Street.
A Thai woman was forced to work there and two of the other flats after Wannas paid her air fare and a tourist visa.
But, this victim – who already had debt issues – was ordered by Wannas to pay £5,000 on her arrival to Glasgow to supposedly cover her costs.
Wannas was in control of any cash and took a cut of any earnings.
The court heard how one of the gang’s victims escaped their clutches after a “client” gave her money to get free.
The four were all eventually held after the 2020 probe. Lawyers for Singh, Zhang and Ntaoulias maintained their innocence.
Zhang had claimed to once be a victim of human trafficking herself.
Sentencing, Judge Brown told Singh: “You accuse the victims of lying.
“I also note you have displayed no empathy and that your attitude has been cold and callous.”
He said Zhang had also played a “leading role” and if she had indeed been a victim of trafficking she should have been aware of the “pernicious nature” of the crime.
Ntaoulias was said to have a lesser, but still “significant” involvement.
Wannas was described as having “plainly exploited” the woman from Thailand.
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