Shana Stanley, 29 and Hussain Edani, 31, both of Northolt Road, Harrow, were sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Friday, 27 August.
Stanley was sentenced to three years and seven months while Edani was sentenced to eight years and two months.
They each pleaded guilty at the same court on Monday, 9 August to four counts of controlling prostitution. In addition, Edani pleaded guilty to three counts of arranging/facilitating travel for the purpose of exploitation while Stanley pleaded guilty to two counts of the same charge.
The court heard that the Brazilian women came to the UK expecting to be taking an English course that would last a few weeks – with their flight, passports, studies and accommodation paid for by Edani and Stanley.
However, the women were soon stopped from attending the courses and instead were exploited into working as sex workers to pay back the costs they had incurred.
They were ordered to make at least £500 a day – often having between 15 and 20 clients a day, but they were only paid a weekly wage of £250 to £300.
Hidden cameras were installed in the victims’ rooms and they were threatened with footage being sent to their families if they did not do as they were asked.
One of the victims told police that she was ‘sold a dream that turned into a nightmare.’
The investigation by the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team began on 22 March 2020 when police were called to an address in south Harrow where a woman told officers she was being kept as a slave and she wanted to go back to Brazil.
The court heard the victim had an argument with her ‘line manager’ – Stanley – that night over money. Stanley left the flat but soon returned and took all of the victim’s money as well as her passport before threatening her. The victim managed to call police and shout for help, but she was pushed by Stanley and the call dropped. Stanley left telling her she had ‘signed her own death warrant.’ The victim managed to take photos of Stanley on her phone before calling police back. Officers attended and safeguarded her.
The victim showed officers the photo of Stanley and told them her name.
A fuller picture of Edani and Stanley’s criminal operation came to light the next day when detectives took a statement from the victim. The victim began attending the English course in Manchester before she was contacted by Stanley and asked to go to London.
The next day Stanley took her shopping and paid for clothing and lingerie before sending her back to Manchester. Soon after she returned to London and met Stanley who told her she would no longer be attending the course. Instead she was given a contract to sign to ‘sell her body,’ being told if she did not sign it she would not be able to go back to Brazil. The victim told officers that at the time she thought signing the contract was her only way out.
She was taken to a flat in south Harrow and a hidden camera was installed in her bedroom, which Stanley said was for her safety. She was also given a mobile phone which she was ordered not to turn off so her movements could be tracked.
Stanley told her if she did not work as directed she would end up homeless on the streets of London and would never see her family again – who thought she was a cleaner.
She continued working until 22 March 2020 when she called the police following her argument with Stanley.
By speaking with the victim, detectives were able to identify another woman who had been trafficked from Brazil by the duo and exploited as a sex worker. She travelled with another woman and they had both believed they were coming over to study English.
They stayed in a hotel in Heathrow for several days before they met with Stanley, who said they would be put in a flat and would wear lingerie bought by her and meet with clients. Again they were told they should make £500 a day and would be paid £250 a week plus £50 for food, working from 10am/11am to midnight.
They were also taken shopping by Stanley and then photographed in the lingerie for an online advert. They were given work phones, which again tracked their movements, and Stanley’s number was saved as a contact under ‘manager.’ They communicated with her over WhatsApp where she sent client bookings. Cameras were also installed in their rooms and the women believed that Stanley monitored this CCTV on her mobile phone.
The women were not allowed to make friends and were escorted to the English course, which they were soon stopped from attending.
Both women eventually managed to escape from Stanley and Edani’s grasp.
On 15 April 2020, officers executed three search warrants at addresses in Wembley and they arrested Edani and Stanley. From these addresses, detectives seized several mobile phones and documentation linked to the ‘business’ and the victims. Detectives also found a hand-drawn company diagram which had Edani at the top, Stanley below as’ manager’ and then ‘girls’ underneath.
At Stanley’s address, officers seized various items including, mobile phones, a diary with price lists and appointments and multiple containers of condoms.
The documentation seized led detectives to a fourth victim – a UK national and law student who was recruited before the Brazilian victims by Edani under the pretence that he could get her modelling work. She had meetings with Edani and Stanley – who she believed to be her modelling agent – at luxury hotels in London and was told if she was serious about modelling she would have to move to London.
Shortly after she moved into a flat in Wembley with Stanley and again was taken shopping – believing the lingerie was for a modelling shoot.
The victim went out with friends while waiting for ‘work’, with the outings covered by Stanley. After a few weeks the victim found herself in the same as the other victims. She owed money and, not knowing how to get out of the situation, reluctantly agreed to work for Edani and Stanley. She managed to leave in August 2019.
All the victims told officers that Edani was the ‘boss’ and Stanley was their ‘line manager’ who also posted adverts online and arranged clients for them. The ‘business’ was portrayed to be a legal escort agency and if the women chose to go beyond that, for example taking money for sex, it was outside their knowledge.
However, the court heard that not only were the victims working as sex workers with the defendants’ knowledge, but also at their direction and under their control.
The defendants’ bank records showed thousands of pounds in cash being deposited into them, showing the financial gain they made from exploiting the victims.
Detective Constable Pete Brewster, the investigating officer, said: “Edani and Stanley lured their victims with false promises before manipulating them and exploiting them for their own financial gain. They had absolutely no regard for the victims or their wellbeing, including making them work long hours for very little in return – even when they were unwell. All they cared about was how much money they could make.
“The Met remains absolutely committed to doing all we can to protect women and girls, including those who are exploited by people like Edani and Stanley.
“Thanks to the courage and bravery of the victims, we were able to gather overwhelming evidence which resulted in Edani and Stanley having no option but to plead guilty, preventing them from harming others.
“The Met takes all reports of modern slavery extremely seriously and is committed to prosecuting those who engage in this pernicious crime. I would encourage anyone who has suffered from these kind of offences to contact police where they will be treated sensitivity and any allegations will be thoroughly investigated.”