Tower Hamlets trio jailed for running central London brothels making £4.4million
PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 26 February 2018
Three people from Tower Hamlets have been jailed for their role in running a £4.4million prostitution ring in central London.
Kamal Bougrine, 48, of Digby Street, Bethnal Green; Simona Gheorghe, 27, of Devons Road, Tower Hamlets; and Mohamed Bakkali, 43, of Adelina Grove, Whitechapel, were all convicted of two counts of conspiracy to control prostitution for gain at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (February 23).
Bougrine was sentenced to five years and nine months imprisonment, Bakkali to two years and three months imprisonment and Gheorghe was handed a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
A man from Ilford was also sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment for the same crimes.
Bougrine and Bakkali were jailed for five years and nine months and two years and three months respectively, while Gheorge was handed a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.
Their crimes saw around £4,471,506 pass through their accounts while they ran brothels close to Harley Street in Mansfield Mews and Cramer Street in Marylebone between 2011 and 2016.
They were set up using registered business names such as London’s Calling, a taxi service; Park Lane VIP Services, a limousine and events company; and eatery Pachas Restaurant.
The restaurant’s average transaction was £645, with most transactions being made between midnight and 3am – times that did not correlate to usual trading patterns.
In 2015, the Metropolitan Police began investigating Bougrine and Ahmed under Operation Parashift and Operation Thistle.
An undercover police officer outside West End strip club, The Windmill, was taken to one of the brothels with a free rickshaw ride included in the deal. Another was told the prices for sex workers started at £250.
A later search of one of the brothels led to the discovery of chip and pin machines, a pink A4 refill pad containing account details of related businesses, including Pachas Restaurant, and an A5 brothel diary detailing how much money each sex worker brought in.
Andrew Levin, from the London Crown Prosecution Service’s Complex Casework unit, said: “These criminals sought to be sophisticated by setting up what would appear to be legitimate businesses on the face of it and the use of card machines.
“On top of cash payments, they collected nearly £4.5m in card payments through brothels in central London and considered themselves well above the law.”