Redbridge man exploiting sex workers caught in undercover operation

Mihaita Strat

Mihaita Strat of Henley Road, Redbridge helped to run a sexual services business - Credit: Metropolitan Police

A Redbridge man who exploited sex workers has been jailed after a police officer posed as a client at a Barking hotel.

Mihaita Strat, 51, of Henley Road, helped run sexual services business Ace Concept with Claudia Anca, 27, and Vasile Anca, 24, both of Garfield Road, Chingford.

Strat, together with the Anca siblings, was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday (November 17) following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation Team.

All three originally denied their involvement and a four-week trial started on November 8. However, due to the amount of evidence against them, they all pleaded guilty on November 9 to controlling prostitution.

Strat was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. The Anca siblings also pleaded guilty to supplying Class A drugs, and were sentenced to six years’ imprisonment each.

Charges of trafficking have been left to lie on file.

The Met's DI Nigel Penney said Strat, along with Claudia and Vasile, had "absolutely no regard for the welfare or safety of the women they exploited for their own greed".

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DI Penney said: “This was an excellent investigation by my team of detectives, which resulted in the defendants changing their pleas to guilty due to the overwhelming evidence against them."

“The Met is committed to keeping London a safe place for everyone and will continue to work behind the scenes to robustly target and bring to justice people like the Anca siblings and Strat who treat people as nothing more than an object to make money," he added.

As the directors of Ace Concept, set up in March 2019, Claudia and Vasile provided transport for the sex workers to and from a customer’s location, which was a hotel or home address.

Typically, a customer would phone the number on the online adverts and a woman would be driven to their preferred location, which was usually a hotel.

Mihaita Strat, Claudia Anca and Vasile Anca

Vasile Anca (l), Claudia Anca and Mihaita Strat (r) were jailed for controlling prostitution - Credit: Metropolitan Police

Claudia's phone number took the calls from customers and she directed the sex workers, dictating how they looked and what they wore.

Vasile assisted Claudia in running the business as well as frequently providing transport for the women. Cocaine would also be provided by the siblings if asked for by the customers.

At times Strat helped Claudia with the website and gave direction to the sex workers. Like Vasile, he also acted as a driver, transporting the women to appointments and back.

Detectives discovered that Ace Concept was linked to a number of adverts on a classified website. Claudia’s phone number was on the individual adverts to book sexual services with the women. In addition, the siblings’ cardholder details were listed for the adverts on the website.

There were 73 payments from the siblings between July 2019 and January 2021, totalling £23,162.99. Strat also paid for some of the advertisements in August 2020.

On December 10 last year, an undercover officer met a woman and had cocaine delivered at a Barking hotel. The officer then made his excuses, paid her in full, and left the hotel. The woman was picked up by Vasile and taken to the siblings’ home address.

On January 13 2021, the undercover 'sting' began. Strat dropped off two women at a Barking hotel shortly before 10.40pm, calling out "did you order an escort" to the officer. He was then arrested.

At about 11.40pm, officers attended the Ancas’ home address and arrested the siblings. While at the police station, Strat noticed Claudia and said to an officer under his breath, "that is the boss, she is the boss".

The Met's DI Nigel Penney added: “We remain absolutely dedicated to doing all we can to protect women and girls, like those who were exploited by the Ancas and Strat.

"The Met takes all reports of exploitation extremely seriously and I would encourage anyone who has suffered from these kind of offences to contact police where they will be treated sensitively and any allegations will be thoroughly investigated.”

Anyone with information about exploitation and modern slavery is asked to call the police on 101. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.