Six Oxford residents have been charged for crimes relating to the exploitation of local girls aged between 11 and 16, after an investigation into child trafficking.
Operation Bullfinch, led by Thames Valley Police and assisted by Oxfordshire County Council, culminated in the arrests of members of what is believed to be a “criminal gang” that has groomed, drugged and raped vulnerable individuals over a period of six years.
Detective Superintendent Rob Mason said, “We believe we have uncovered an organised crime group who have been running a business of selling young girls for sex. We have also identified a number of customers who we have reason to believe have used the service.”
“We consider the girls to be very, very vulnerable and that’s why they have been targeted.”
The Detective Superintendent added, “It would be fair to say that at different times in their lives they have all come to the notice of children’s services.”
Twelve Oxford residents, from 21 to 37 years of age, were arrested in synchronised dawn raids on fourteen houses last Thursday, in an operation involving 150 officers. A thirteenth arrest was made on Thursday afternoon. Six men have so far been charged, whilst the other seven have been bailed until next month.
Both suspected gang members and customers were targeted. Officers launched the investigation after a number of girls were reported missing.
The arrests were for a variety of offences, including for the prostitution of females under the age of 18, trafficking, rape, administrating drugs for the purpose of rape, and grooming.
Louise Chapman, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Families in Oxfordshire County Council, stated on Thursday, “The council has assisted in what has been a complex investigation leading to today’s events. Its focus has been, and will continue to be, on the care for alleged victims.
“Thames Valley Police and the Oxfordshire County Council’s children’s social care team linked up swiftly when it became apparent that it would be dealing with an investigation that centred upon child exploitation.
“This prompt action allowed children’s social care workers to work in close partnership with Thames Valley Police, with officers from the county council being seconded to the police, working from police premises.”
Esther Davidson, from the group Oxford Community Against Trafficking, added, “We now have to face the fact modern slavery takes place in our community, and it involves children.
“Criminals are at work, but they are also exploiting demand. Demand for sex with under-age children is completely unacceptable.”
Zeshan Ahmed, who is unemployed and lives in Headington, faces ten charges of engaging in sexual activity with a child between January 2010 and January this year. The court heard that the offences relate to two girls who were under the age of 16 at the time.
Security guard and father of two Kamar Jamil, from Summertown, was charged with four counts of rape, two counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill, and one count of possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
Hospital porter Akhtar Dogar, from East Oxford, was charged with three counts of rape, one count of conspiring to rape a child, three counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill, and one count of trafficking.
His brother, Anjum Dogar, faces one charge of conspiring to rape a child, one charge of arranging the prostitution of a child, and a further charge of trafficking.
Unemployed Mohammed Karrar, who lives on Cowley Road, has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to rape a child, and one count of supplying a Class A drug to a child between July 2004 and 2009. His brother, security guard Bassan Karrar, who has no fixed address, faces one count of rape, allegedly carried out against a 14-year-old girl in November 2006.
The six charged men appeared before High Wycombe Magistrates on Saturday, but no pleas were entered. They were remanded in custody to appear at Aylesbury Crown Court on Friday.
After Thursday’s raids, more than 40 uniformed officers and community support officers handed out flyers to reassure the public and spread contact details for those seeking further information. Detective Inspector Simon Morton, who leads Operation Bullfinch, spoke on YouTube to reassure the community and explain the events.