A WOMAN seeking refuge in Sheffield after she was forced to work as a sex slave found herself at the centre of one of the largest human trafficking investigations ever carried out in the north of England.
It started in October 2008 when officers from Greater Manchester Police's sexual crime unit received a tip-off that a trafficking victim was being forced to work at the Shangri La's massage parlour in the Openshaw area of Manchester.
READ MORE: Sex slave raped and beaten but saved in Sheffield - VIDEO
Officers visited the vice den and rescued a 25-year-old woman.
Marinela Badea and another trafficking victim were initially arrested in the raid and charged with controlling prostitution for gain, which they admitted because they were too afraid of the repercussions of leading the police to Marius Nejloveanu, who had brought them to the UK.
As she found herself behind bars for the first time in her life, Marinela says she finally felt safe while she spent time on remand in Wakefield's New Hall Prison waiting for her case to reach court.
Even though she was locked up with inmates including killers, she said it was preferable to her life on the outside.
Her conviction has since been quashed.
Detective Constable Colin Ward, from Greater Manchester Police's Sexual Crime Unit, said: "It is difficult to find the words to describe the physical and sexual abuse these women have endured.
"Marius in particular spun a web of lies to encourage the women to come to the UK, whether by declaring his love for them or promising a better life.
"Instead they became prisoners forced into prostitution. If they complained in any way they would be beaten and raped by Marius. He is a very dangerous man who sees women as a commodity whose only purpose is to serve him financially and sexually.
"The girls are still frightened of Marius and Bogdan, such was their reputation, and the fear Marius in particular instilled in them through his violent and abusive regime."
The victims were forced to work six or seven days a week, sometimes having sex with as many as 10 men a night.
Every punter paid the girls about 40 - half of which went to Marius or his father and the other half to the brothel.
Marinela's ordeal began in Romania where she was held captive by Marius before he got her a fake passport to bring her into the UK to work in the country's sex industry.
She said: "He just brought different men around each night to sleep with me.
"I had to stay there and do what he said or he beat me up."
With the help of a Sheffield-based charity which she heard about during her spell in prison, Marinela moved to the city to start a new life.
The charity cannot be identified because it provides and safe house and support in the city for victims of trafficking who have fled their captors.
She said she is optimistic about her new life in Sheffield and now hopes to train to become a hairdresser.
She said: "I want to earn enough money so that one day I can buy a safe house. I want to give something back because I was saved by people in Sheffield.
"I would never wish what happened to me on my worst enemy. Today, I feel like a different person. I feel lucky to live in Sheffield. I am happy."
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