Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

A ROMANIAN alleged to have sold his own girlfriend into sexual slavery could face court here – although he may never have set foot in the UK. In a landmark case, Gabriel Nastase, 37, faces extradition from Spain, where he is serving an unrelated prison sentence, to Britain on a human trafficking charge.

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Constantin Mihai is thought to have ‘bought’ a woman from an alleged pimp with wife Valentina

On his release, he is expected to be charged in connection with a Met Police investigation into a London based Romanian prostitution ring.

Nastase, from Targoviste in southern Romania, was in a relationship with a woman, now 26, whom he allegedly sent to work as a prostitute in Bamberg, Germany, where it is legal.

However, he is accused of later selling her to a couple in his hometown, who forced her to come to the UK and work illegally as a prostitute for more than three years from January 2012.

The case is one of a growing number of investigations spanning several countries, that UK police forces are having to undertake due to the number of EU criminals based here.

Alarmingly, Constantin Mihai, 37, who “bought” the alleged victim, with his wife, Valentina Mihai, 37, was able to move here despite an attempted murder conviction in Romania.

Details of the alleged sale of the woman emerged in the trial last month of the Mihais and Constantin’s brother Catalin Mihai, 32, at Southwark Crown Court.

They were jailed for a combined total of 23 years.

DC Peter Eddy of the Met Police Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit said: “The family had a network of at least 11 women working as prostitutes for them, all Romanian nationals, across London, Brighton, Leicester and Yorkshire, but the main victim, who lived with Constantin and Valentina, was used as a main source of income.”

The court was told she was made to work on the streets and in brothels in a red-light area at Leyton, east London, and in Ilford Lane, Ilford – a magnet for pimps and prostitutes from Romania since 2014 when its nationals gained unrestricted UK access.

The woman handed all of her earnings to the couple.

Valentina Mihai controlled the woman, when her husband returned to Romania, but was later extradited there herself on theft charges.

Romanian police referred the case to the Met, which set up a joint investigation team with Eurojust, Europol and Romanian counterparts.

They found £330,000 had passed through the Mihai’s accounts and Met Police seized three BMW cars through proceeds of crime legislation.

In October 2017, Constantin, Valentina and Catalin Mihai were arrested in Romania and extradited here.

The trio were convicted of human trafficking, controlling prostitution and money laundering, and jailed for nine, six, and eight years respectively.

DC Alex Snigorski, who worked with DC Eddy, said: “The Mihais are a parasitic family living off the misery and suffering of others. They thought nothing of ‘buying’ women and abusing them... to fund their love of luxury cars and property.”

DC Eddy said the Met had decided to charge Nastase for reasons of continuity.

He explained: “Because we led the prosecution, it was decided we should also prosecute him, rather than a new one start in Romania, even though his alleged offence was committed over there.”

Asked about Constantin Mihai’s conviction for attempted murder, a Home Office spokesman said: “We will always seek to deport any foreign national with a history of serious or persistent convictions overseas.”

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