POLICE have smashed an alleged brothel ring in Glasgow city centre.

The Evening Times joined a dozen officers as they raided a flat allegedly used for prostitution in James Watt Street, Anderston, in the city's financial district.

A 33-year-old woman, originally from China, was questioned by police and £2700 in cash was seized.

During the search of the property, bank cards, mobile phones, laptops and sex toys were also taken away.

It was later discovered the woman had a history of working in a brothel in Dundee.

The Evening Times attended the mid-morning briefing at Stewart Street police office as Detective Inspector Dougie McKinlay, told the team of the plans to raid the Glasgow flat.

It was believed the alleged brothel might have been part of a Thai prostitution ring in the city.

Police swooped shortly after 1pm and were at the flat for several hours conducting interviews, with the help of a Cantonese interpreter, and searching the property.

Officers spent weeks gathering intelligence about the first floor flat.

It was being advertised in a national newspaper and on internet sites under the name Adult Work.

Undercover officers found several men were visiting the flat regularly and it was noted to be particularly busy at lunch time.

Detectives are carrying out further inquiries to find out if the flat has any links to human trafficking – and to establish who may have been running the alleged brothel.

Officers also searched another city centre property in Garnethill on the same day, but did not find any links to sex crime. Now detectives have promised to continue to crack down on organised crime gangs who traffic women after a series of raids in the city.

Detective Inspector McKinlay, who is in charge of the public protection unit in A Division, said trafficking and brothels were one of the major problems in the police division, which covers the city centre and the West End, including Drumchapel.

He said: "It is an issue in our division because the area is central for buses and trains, so it is easy to access.

"There are flats being set up by serious and organised crime groups to bring males into the city centre to look for the services of prostitutes and taking it away from street prostitution."

Often, the brothels are run externally by organised gangs who use call centres to lure men to them.

The brothels can be advertised through text messages to mobile phones, as well as through newspapers and the internet.

Mr McKinlay added: "We are always trying to crack down on prostitution, particularly as part of serious and organised crime."

Police say trying to help women who may have been trafficked can be one of the most difficult parts of the job. Officers link with Glasgow City Council's TARA (Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) service for specialist advice.

Mr McKinlay said: "The difficulties of doing this is we do not know what nationality we are going to be dealing with.

"We can't really plan for it. We have to gain the trust of the women. Generally, they are coming from countries where they do not trust the police.

"It can take weeks or months to get the proper story from the women to find out what they have been doing since they got here."

The raid was part of Operation Myriad, a six-month attack on crime across the Strathclyde Police force area.

Chief Superintendent Val Thomson, Divisional Commander for Glasgow City Centre, said: "Operation Myriad has been a fantastic opportunity for us to make a real difference to the communities we serve.

"We have kept people safe by tackling a whole myriad of issues like violent offenders wanted on warrant, serious and organised criminals laundering money through apparently 'legitimate' enterprises, bogus callers, and antisocial offenders affecting the quality of lives of people who live, work and socialise in the city."

rachel.loxton@ heraldandtimes.co.uk