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West Norfolk couple jailed for running international sex trafficking ring

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A West Norfolk husband and wife who ran an international sex trafficking ring have each been jailed for five years.

Detectives say Gareth Derby, 53, and Fabiani Alvez de Sousa, 42, both of Town Street, Upwell, made tens of thousands of pounds by exploiting women they flew to Britain from Europe and South America.

At one point, they even converted their own garage for one of their victims to work in.

Fabiani Alvez De Sousa. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (55070571)
Fabiani Alvez De Sousa. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (55070571)

The couple appeared before Leeds Crown Court for sentencing on Monday.

They had previously been convicted on charges of controlling prostitution for gain and human trafficking following a trial in December.

The case was brought following a four-year investigation by police in Norfolk and North Yorkshire, where the offences first came to light.

Gareth Derby. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (55070568)
Gareth Derby. Picture: North Yorkshire Police (55070568)

Officers visited a flat in Harrogate on several occasions between October 2017 and May 2018, where they spoke to five women who were operating as sex workers.

Subsequent inquiries revealed the property was being rented by De Souza, who had also posted adverts on an adult website.

Similar adverts were posted in relation to a second property in Nelson Street, Lynn and the couple paid for flights into Manchester and Stansted airports, plus connecting road travel to the two addresses.

The couple were initially arrested at their then home in Walpole St Andrew in August 2018.

Crown court news
Crown court news

On arrival, officers found one of the women they had previously met at the Harrogate property, plus another who was working from a garage which had been converted for the purpose.

The conversion took place after the Lynn flat became unavailable.

Det Con Leah Kitchen, of North Yorkshire Police's Organised Crime Unit, said after the hearing: “De Souza claimed throughout the investigation that she was just helping friends of hers who were working as prostitutes, while Derby repeatedly told the police that he was unaware of what was going on.

“The truth of the matter is that they, together, were operating an illegal business involving human trafficking and controlling prostitution for gain.”

In one six-month period, the couple had deposits of more than £40,000 paid into their bank account.

As part of the investigation, officers recovered WhatsApp messages between the pair in which De Souza described herself as "the boss", claimed to have more than 10 women interested in working for them and discussed renting further premises.

Seven victims, aged between 26 and 60 and from Brazil, Portugal and Spain, have been identified.

Det Con Kitchen added: “It is clear from these messages alone that they were determined to expand their business. They had invested thousands of pounds, but they had profited by more than £40,000 during this six-month period.

“This considerable sum of cash was gained through the exploitation of seven vulnerable women in what amounted to modern day slavery.

“I’m very proud that North Yorkshire Police, with assistance from Norfolk Constabulary, have rooted out this activity and brought the offenders to justice.”

In addition to their prison terms, the couple were each made the subject of 10-year slavery and trafficking orders which will come into effect once they are released.

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