A couple who ran an international sex trafficking ring out of an internet café in central Croydon have been jailed.
Mate Puskas, 25, and Victoria Brown, 25, were caught red-handed in the Cyberspace internet café they ran in Surrey Street where they trafficked women into the UK to work as prostitutes.
The duo, alongside Hungarian nationals Zoltan Mohacsi, Istvan Toth and Peter Toth, were found guilty yesterday of conspiring to traffic women into the UK for sexual exploitation.
Puskas, from Croydon, was today jailed for six years, Brown for three years and Mohacsi, from Ilford, was given four years.
Brothers Istvan and Peter, who are currently on the run, were given five years and four years in prison. They both had nine months added to their sentences after being convicted of Contempt of Court for breaking bail.
Talking to the remaining three defendants, Judge Richard Hayward told them they had committed offending behaviour which "society finds repugnant".
Portia Ragnauth, Acting Chief Crown Prosecutor CPS South East, said yesterday: "None of us can imagine how desperate the victims were in this case. In many instances, they came to the UK to try to escape financial difficulties at home.
"Payments for their flights were often made by one of the five individuals convicted today.
"Once in the UK these 'debts' were used as a hold over the women who were forced to work for up to 12 hours a day.
"When the women told the group they did not want to work as prostitutes, threats would be made against them and their families back in Hungary."
Puskas, 26, was told that even though he was younger than his co-conspirators he had "business acumen" and was undoubtedly at the heart of the operation.
The judge said: "You were at the centre of the conspiracy and very much in control.
"This conspiracy was an extension of your career which you had already chosen."
Brown, 25, was described by Judge Hayward as a "loyal lieutenant" to Puskas, who was drawn skilfully into the operation by her boyfriend over a period time.
She wept as he told her she had run an unattractive defence of duress, seeking to blame her actions on Puskas, the father of her 21-month-old son.
He said: "It is very sad to see you in the dock. You are intelligent, you come from a respectable family, you had a good job, and you threw it all away for Mate Puskas."
TODAY'S TOP CROYDON STORIES