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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 15:49 GMT
Prison for sex slave gang leader
Luan Plakici
Plakici married one of his young victims for her earning potential
A 26-year-old former asylum seeker has been jailed for 10 years for smuggling kidnapped women into Britain to work as prostitutes.

Albanian Luan Plakici used a false British passport to find the "poor, naive and gullible" in Eastern Europe.

The 26-year-old was head of a gang of traffickers who made more than 1m.

Plakici was convicted of offences including kidnap and incitement to rape, at Wood Green Crown Court, north London on Monday.

He was sentenced on Monday afternoon after the two-month trial.

Biggest case ever

Detectives said it was the biggest case of human trafficking for prostitution seen in this country, supplying women to brothels in north London, Bedford, Luton and Reading.

He was merciless in his exploitation of women for financial gain, terrifying his victims by beating and threatening to kill them if they did not comply with his demands
Det Chief Insp Holmes
During the trial Plakici admitted facilitating the illegal entry into the UK of between 50 and 60 young women and seven counts of people trafficking.

He even married one teenager before telling her she would be spending her wedding night working as a prostitute.

In the months which followed he ordered her to have two abortions and made her "return to work" within hours of each one.

But he claimed he had gone no further than flouting immigration laws.

'Travel bill'

After three weeks of deliberations the jury found Plakici guilty of three counts of kidnapping, one of procuring a teenager to have unlawful sex and incitement to rape, and three of living on prostitution, between July 2000 and October last year.

One of his alleged henchmen, 20-year-old Ismet Islami, of Palmers Green, north London, was found not guilty of one count of rape.

Seven of Plakici's victims - from Romania and Moldova - gave evidence in the trial.

The court was told how they were lured from loving families with promises of a wealthier life in the west.

Instead the women were treated as prisoners and were bought, sold and sometimes raped on their journey to this country.

After they cleared immigration with fake passports, gang leader Plakici would find massage parlours for the women to work at.

They were told they had no option but to work as prostitutes, entertaining up to 20 men a day, seven days a week, in order to pay back their 8,000 "travel bill".

Plakici made so much money he began building a string of luxury homes for himself across Europe.

He also splashed out on the car of his dreams - a Ferrari Spider - but just 24 hours after he bought it he was arrested in a raid on his home.

'Harrowing ordeal'

Speaking outside the court Detective Chief Inspector Mark Holmes described Plakici as a "violent and unfeeling pimp".

Plakici's Ferrari Spider
Plakici was arrested the day after buying a Ferrari Spider - his dream car

He said: "He was merciless in his exploitation of women for financial gain, terrifying his victims by beating and threatening to kill them if they did not comply with his demands.

"These girls were put through a harrowing ordeal. Not only had they been kidnapped, raped and beaten and their hopes of a new start in life thwarted, Plakici forced them to relive their ordeals in front of a courtroom."

Det Chief Insp Holmes praised the bravery of the women who gave evidence.

After the sentence was delivered Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes praised the work of police officers and the Reflex immigration taskforce.

She said in the last six months the taskforce had helped to disrupt 20 organised criminal gangs and convict 24 facilitators.

Ms Hughes also announced a pilot project providing support to female victims of traffic will receive Home Office funding of more than 700,000 for another year.

"We are also reviewing the project to see how we can encourage more women to come forward and participate in the scheme", she added.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"This is an unprecedented operation"



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