'I feel like I'm suffocating' - harrowing words of trafficking victim in diary found during raid

The heartbreaking diary of a Romanian woman trafficked into the UK has been revealed as a Preston man and seven other gangs members begin jail terms.

Valentin Poiana
Valentin Poiana

One of the victims, who came to the UK believing she was in a relationship with her captor, wrote: " I thought that the sun will eventually shine in my life but I was wrong and the mist doesn’t seem to want to go away.

“I feel sad and tired, ill and fragile. I feel like I’m suffocating. I need some help to go through this and I want strength. My arms are heavy and my legs are numb, my head aches and it gets worse when I think about all the women around him.”

Andrei Alin Carabet, 28, of Manchester Road, Preston, admitted conspiracy to arrange the travel of other persons for the purposes of exploitation, along with co defendants Ionel Sandu, 33, of Carlton Road, Blackburn , Florin Rusescu, 44, and Maria Badalescu, 33, of Harcourt Street, Luton, Catalin Mihalescu, 44, of Wadeson Road, Manchester and Valentin Poiana, 40, of Orchard Street, Manchester.

Maria Badelescu

Carabet was jailed by Judge Simon Newell at Preston Crown Court for 25 months, with Mihailescu jailed for 44 months, Sandu for 40 months, Rusescu for 31 months, Badalescu for 30 months, and Poiana for 14 months.

Mihai Nicolescu, 33, of Freehold Street, Northampton, pleaded guilty to encouraging or assisting exploitation and was jailed for nine months.

The gang brought Romanian women into the UK to work in the sex industry.

The court previously heard some women were sent on 'outcalls' and that the victims involved ranged from their late teens to early 30s.

Ionel Sandu

Others were moved from Luton to Blackburn and had to work in brothels in Preston and Blackburn.

Travel had been arranged for some of them using an email address belonging to one of the defendants and credit card in his name.

Investigators identified payments to airline Wizzair who operate out of Hungary, with 17 transactions to Wizzair in the sum of £1,888.

The operation is believed to have involved around 14 young women travelling between Romania, Malaga, Bucharest and Luton.

Andrei Carabet

Police found two women were being advertised for sexual services in Luton prior to their arrival in Blackburn.

Advertisements were placed on Viva Street, the court heard.

The plan was foiled on November 29 last year when raids were executed in Lancashire, Manchester, Northampton and Luton, as part of Operation Magician - an investigation into the trafficking and sexual exploitation of a large number of Romanian women.

Six women were rescued during those raids and taken to safety, and a number of items linked to the sex trade, along with cash and firearms, were seized.

Florin Rusescu

Sgt Stu Peall, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Team, said: “This gang were part of a large human trafficking network, which operated brothels across the UK.

“They were treated as commodities, and were traded among brothel owners without any regard for their wellbeing or human rights. When they were no longer wanted they were moved to a different location, where they were put to work in the sex trade again.

“The diary we found gives a glimpse of the suffering these women endured at the hands of this criminal gang.

“Lancashire Constabulary is committed to tackling exploitation of all kinds and today’s sentences are the culmination of the hard work and dedication of our officers who continue to work proactively to put an end to modern slavery.”

If you have information about modern slavery crimes – those who are committing such crimes or where victims are at risk that requires an immediate response dial 999.

If you hold information that could lead to the identification, discovery and recovery of victims in the UK, you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.

Mihai Nicolescu
Catalin Mihalescu