Women involved in prostitution in Donegal have been asked to come forward following raids at six locations in Letterkenny.
The raids were part of national and cross-border operation which saw a total of eight people arrested and three suspected victims of prostitution arrested.
Six houses and apartments in Letterkenny were raided by 20 gardaí, including detectives and members of the immigration bureau.
While no arrests were made, a number of individuals were questioned at the location. A quantity of cash, credits cards, documents and laptop computers were seized in the operation which was intelligence-lead.
A spokesman at Letterkenny Garda Station said the raids were part of an investigation into prostitution and human trafficking.
The Letterkenny raids got underway at lunchtime and were part of Operation Quest, a national and cross-border probe into prostitution, brothel keeping, human trafficking and money laundering that saw over 100 premises in the Republic raided.
Gardaí say the investigation has established that prostitution is organised on a cross-border basis.
Gerardine Rowley of Rhuama said that women involved in prostitution must come forward. Speaking to the Donegal Democrat she said the message from gardaí is that women involved in prostitution will not be treated as criminals, but as victims. “They are concerned that if they come forward they will be arrested,” she said. “It is really encouraging that women will realise that they are not the focus and I think it is a really important approach that police are taking.
“The sex trade in Ireland is highly organised by criminal gangs and we can see from the scale of this operation the extent of prostitution which is now in every county on the Island of Ireland.
“These criminals don’t see the border. The nature of prostitution is that women are moved around and it is a method of controlling the women by pimps because they don’t have time to build up networks in the local community. The danger then is that if women seek help, it is very hard to get away from the criminals that are controlling them.”