Slavery ringleaders jailed after trafficking children from Vietnam to work in the UK

Nick Reilly
Thu Huong Nguyen and Viet Hong Nguyen have been jailed (Police handout)

A man and a woman have been jailed after an investigation discovered how children trafficked from Vietnam were being forced into unpaid work at nail bars across the Midlands and the South West.

Thu Huong Nguyen, known as Jenny, and Viet Hoang Nguyen, known as Ken, were found guilty of conspiring to arrange or facilitate the movement of people for labour exploitation, as well as conspiring to require others to perform forced or compulsory labour at Stafford crown court.

Jenny, 48, who is from Bath, was jailed for five years, while Ken, 29, from Burton-upon-Trent, was caged for four years.

The investigation initially began when police, immigration officials and staff from the charity Unseen made a visit to nail bars in Bath in February 2016 and found two Vietnamese girls who were working on clients’ nails.

It emerged that the girls were working 60 hours a week, with one paid about £30 a month while the second was not paid.

They were staying at Jenny’s four bedroomed home, with one living in a tiny room and the other sleeping on a mattress in the attic.

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‘They were extremely vulnerable. They were from impoverished backgrounds in Vietnam and had come to the UK seeking a better life’, DI Charlotte Tucker of Avon & Somerset Police said.

A subsequent raid of Jenny’s home discovered that she was harbouring £60,000, which were hidden in £50 notes hidden inside a teddy bear, along with a cabinet full of designer handbags, some worth thousands of pounds.

‘She was making a lot of money using cheap or totally free labour. Stashing money away in teddy bears suggests she didn’t know what do with all the cash she was making’, DI Tucker added.

After being taken in emergency foster care, the girls run away but were tracked once more after being re-trafficked to a nail bar in Burton-Upon-Trent.

Detective Inspector Clair Langley, who led the operation for Staffordshire Police, said: ‘In this case young and vulnerable women have been exploited for labour purposes purely for financial gain.

‘This is the first successful prosecution for labour exploitation and trafficking for the purposes of labour exploitation under the Modern Slavery Act and we hope it sends out a clear message – we won’t tolerate this activity and we will make every effort to bring offenders to justice.’