Author- STAFFORDSHIRE POLICE
A Vietnamese woman who was found guilty of employing illegal immigrants at a Staffordshire Moorlands nail bar has been jailed for six years.
Anh Tai Mai Ha, aged 27, was jailed today (21 August) at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. She was also found guilty of conspiracy to produce cannabis.
Her associate Tuan Minh Nguyen, aged 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to produce cannabis and jailed for five years.
The court heard that officers from Staffordshire Police first entered Isabella’s Nail Bar in High Street, Cheadle, on 16 March 2017 having received information that illegal immigrants were working locally.
Ha had sublet the shop in the High Street and was living nearby in Prince George St, Cheadle. The premises was open for business when the raid took place, but there were no customers inside.
Ha’s home was searched. There were two upstairs bedrooms, each with a mattress and women’s clothing in them, including three suitcases of designer clothes and a receipt for a £570 handbag bought in London in February 2017. The lounge was being used as a third bedroom. Train tickets were also found for travel between Stoke and London.
Following enquiries and phone record checks links were made with Nguyen, of Orford Avenue, Warrington, who was subsequently arrested.
Officers found a man called Dung Nguyen working in the shop in Cheadle and also found a woman crouched down beside a toilet. She gave her name as Linh Thuy Nguyen. Dung and Linh were arrested for Immigration Act offences.
Linh, whose real name is Trinh Tri Thuy Duong, stated she was 16, but Vietnamese authorities have since confirmed she was 23-years-old. She appeared at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court in October 2018 where she was convicted of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to eight months in prison. Dung absconded before his correct details could be ascertained.
Detective Sergeant Phil White, of Staffordshire Police, said: “This case is a first for Staffordshire Police. We have brought successful convictions for an individual falsely claiming to be a victim of modern day slavery and also against their employer.
“We are grateful for the tremendous support from partner agencies.”
DS White said the operation had involved close working between CPS, the Immigration and Enforcement unit based in Stoke-on-Trent, NCA Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, Home Office, social services, the Vietnamese authorities, Merseyside Police and Cheshire Police.
“We were able to put together a case that has not only secured a conviction and recovered over £70,000 in cash but has also sent out a message that the employing of illegal immigrants, reporting to be victims of modern day slavery or human trafficking and the funding of criminal activities, will not be tolerated.”