Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Internet sex gang members jailed

Pongpoj (l) and Bordee Pitayatankul
The brothers were the masterminds behind the escort service

Two brothers who led an internet sex gang which made millions by exploiting trafficked women have been jailed.

The gang, which smuggled hundreds of Asian women into Britain to work as prostitutes, made at least 3.2m during its five-year span.

The women were charged up to 30,000 by the gang to repay their travel "debts".

Bordee Pitayatankul, 33, from Surrey, was jailed for 15 months. His brother Pongpoj, 31, from Paddington, was given 18 months at Southwark Crown Court.

Seven other members of the gang were also jailed.

It cannot be right in this day and age that women coming to this country should be, in effect, sold off like slaves
Judge Christopher Hardy

Gang members admitted to various offences including conspiring to launder money and plotting to control prostitution between 1 January 2005 and 21 April 2008.

Up to 70 women - some as young as 18 - worked from at least 20 brothels across London, including Bayswater, Kensington and Paddington, often going with dozens of customers a week to raise the money they were told they owed the gang.

The Oriental Gems website set up by the gang featured the women accompanied by a photo gallery showing them naked or semi-naked.

It also listed their sexual specialities with prices ranging from 150 for one hour to 1,500 for an overnight stay.

Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Hardy said: "It cannot be right in this day and age that women coming to this country should be, in effect, sold off like slaves to work in this or any other trade for free until their debt is expunged.

"Oriental Gems was exploiting on a grand scale both in the number of females on its books, or, more accurately, its website and the turnover in cash generated."

Oriental Gem website
The website listed sexual specialities and prices for the services

Police estimate that the business was making a "conservative" 800,000 a year at one stage, with the gang pocketing a minimum of 3.2m.

Although officers have seized 179,000 they are yet to trace huge "assets" thought to be hidden abroad.

Other gang members jailed were: Monthira Duangthip, 35, from Paddington, 12 months; Sutima Khongpon, 55, two-and-a-half years, Phanusak Kaewbenjarkarn, 32, two years, and Panya Peakaew, 25, 28 days, all of Streatham, south-east London; Jiripha Sriwicha, 40, of Hendon, north London, two years; Graipich Vudto, 28, of Victoria, central London, 28 days; and Noppharat Charoenying, 29, of Inverness Terrace, Bayswater, west London, 28 days.

A 10th defendant, Thatri Pornpaditkong, 27, of Page Street, Victoria, south-west London, was given a 60-hour community order.

The judge said authorities should decide whether those convicted should be deported.

Confiscation hearings will be held next year.

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