Five people who ran an international prostitution ring out of Surrey Street Market have been found guilty of sex trafficking women to work in brothels across the country.
Five Hungarian men and a woman were accused of flying more than 50 young Hungarian women into the UK and setting them up in hotels, student accommodation and residential housing.
Mate Puskas, 25, Victoria Brown, 25, Zoltan Mohacsi, 36, Istvan Toth, 34 and Peter Toth, 28, all denied running of the “complex” organisation.
But today they were convicted of conspiracy to traffic. They will be sentenced this afternoon.
Two of the accused, Mate Puskas and Victoria Brown, both 25, were arrested at the Cyberspace internet café in Surrey Street on October 23 2012 after a raid by officers.
Cops had also visited the Holiday Inn Express in Croydon on the same day where they confronted a young Hungarian woman working as a prostitute brought into the country by the prostitution ring, the court was told.
Mr Puskas and Miss Brown, who had a child together but are now separated, had faced a lengthy trial after denying the charges along with their co-defendants.
David Walbank, for the prosecution, told Hove Crown Court at the start of the trial that the defendants arranged appointments with paying clients for the young women who were expected to take part in a range of sexual activities.
On the same day Miss Brown and Mr Puskas were arrested, undercover officers also visited a number of hotels across the country suspected of being used by prostitutes.
Mr Walbank said that in the immediate run up to the arrests, undercover cops used false names and identities to pose as clients.
The officers pretended to be interested in purchasing the services of the young women.
One of the undercover officers, Alfie, had text conversations with one of the women saying he wanted to solicit her for sex.
She said she would meet him at the Holiday Inn Express in Priddy’s Yard, Croydon, the court was told.
The woman also had a profile on the website the defendants used to advertise the services of the women, the court was told.
The court heard the advert showed her as being in Croydon on October 8, 2012. She returned to Croydon on numerous dates until she was confronted by officers on October 23.
Mr Walbank told the court that she had also been seen at the internet café in Surrey Street.
He said Miss Brown and Mr Puskas were caught ‘red handed’ when officers raided the newly opened internet café, as the pair were making arrangements for other women to meet clients for sex.
Mr Walbank said a lot of incriminating evidence was seized including documents such as boarding cards, images on computers and a large number of mobile phones.
Top up receipts were also found at the address and matched numbers on some of the sex adverts, the court was told.
Mr Walbank said one of the phones, which were topped up in the Whitgift Centre, was in Miss Brown’s hand when officers entered the café. The court was told the defendants acted as a "switchboard" to control the young women and sell them for sex.
Puskas, of Surrey Street, Croydon, Brown, of Oakley Road, Bognor, Mohacsi, of Cranbrook Road, Ilford and Istvan and Peter Toth, of St John’s Road, Eastbourne are due to be sentenced at 2pm.
Istvan and Peter Toth, who were not in court, were tried in their absence.
- POLL: More than half of Londoners admit to dipping their wick in the office goods. Have you?
- Fire breaks out in fourth-floor flat in Purley
- Popular nightclub to close and make way for football stadium redevelopment
- How will our area fare when Storm Dorris hammers UK with 80mph winds, heavy rain and snow?
- Jailed: 'Reprehensible' conmen who swindled elderly victim out of hundreds of thousands of pounds