POLICE say five key arrests and the freezing of $1 million in assets has broken a major illegal sex worker syndicate in Melbourne.
A joint operation by the Australian Federal Police and Victorian Police resulted in the arrests of three men and two women allegedly profiting from the illegal management of more than 100 sex workers in the state's capital.
More than $1 million in assets have been frozen as part of the proceeds-of-crime investigation, including four city apartments and three luxury vehicles.
Code-named Operation Kitrino, the investigation began in September last year after informants came to the AFP regarding the syndicate's activities.
Police will allege in Melbourne Magistrates Court today Jul3 that the syndicate was illegally managing the sex workers through four licensed Melbourne brothels, earning more than $500,000 in the past five months.
The AFP and state police completed 13 search warrants yesterday at brothels, homes and businesses throughout Melbourne suburbs and the city.
AFP co-ordinator of crime operations Ian Bate said the close working relationship between the state and federal agencies was vital to the disruption of the syndicate.
"These arrests have caused a significant disruption to this syndicate which police will continue to target and investigate," he said.
Investigations into the syndicate remain ongoing and further charges have not been ruled out.
*A 38-year-old Southbank woman charged with dealing in proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more by virtue of living on the earnings of sex workers.
*A 32-year-old Clayton man, 56-year-old Southbank woman, 25-year-old Southbank man and 31-year-old Donvale man charged with aiding and abetting proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more by virtue of living on the earnings of sex workers.
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