Pictured: Man accused of drugging at least four ‘sex slaves’ and tattooing them with ‘property of Matt’ after forcing them into prostitution
- Matthew James Markcrow, 35, was arrested on Thursday on multiple charges
- Co-accused Crystal Sawyer, 23, also arrested in police raids in south Brisbane
- The pair accused of exploiting vulnerable young women into unpaid prostitution
At least four young women have been drugged, tattooed, filmed and exploited into unpaid prostitution by a Queensland man and woman in a ‘particularly sinister’ case, police allege.
After a tip-off by a concerned member of the public, Matthew James Markcrow, 35, and Crystal Marie Sawyer, 23, were arrested in a police raid on a townhouse in Brisbane‘s south on Thursday.
Markcrow is alleged to have tattooed the women with the phrase ‘property of Matt’.
He is charged with conducting a business involving servitude, making recordings in breach of privacy, and conducting a business of unlawful prostitution.
Markcrow (pictured) has been charged with multiple offences after police allege he targeted vulnerable young women and forced them into unpaid prostitution
Sawyer (pictured) is also charged with running the illegal prostitution business in which the women were treated as ‘slaves’, police said
Police allege his co-accused Sawyer acted as the ‘senior girl’ in the house where the group were living with the other women following her lead.
She is also charged with conducting a business of unlawful prostitution along with contravene a police order for failing to provide cops with the passwords to her phone and laptop.
‘[A] concerned community member [informed police] that at least four young women had [allegedly] been recruited, provided with drugs and illegally prostituted against their own will,’ Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce Detective Inspector Juliet Hancock said.
The two accused along with three young women were found at the house by officers conducting the raid, The Courier Mail reported.
Police said the young women had been from dysfunctional homes and had been targeted through social media by the pair.
The business allegedly operated by transporting the women to an inner-city apartment from suburban Brisbane where they were forced to work before being driven back.
Police claim the young women were not paid for the work and were financially dependent on the accused.
Markcrow was denied bail and will return to court on February 24 with police investigations ongoing
A post by Markcrow showing four women with the same tattoo ‘property of Matt M.’ (pictured)
‘It would be, I think fair to say, some of these women (allegedly) don’t understand they’ve been exploited,’ Det Insp Hancock said.
‘And a couple of them yesterday were definitely very heavily under the influence of drugs so I don’t think they understood yesterday, when I was talking to them.’
Markcrow did not apply for bail at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday and was remanded in custody – making a heart shape with his hands to a young woman at the back of the court as he was led away.
Co-accused Sawyer also appeared on Friday and was granted bail provided she not go within 100 metres of the house, report to police twice weekly, and not contact certain people including Markcrow.
Crystal Sawyer (pictured) leaving Brisbane watchhouse on Friday afternoon
The police prosecutor claimed investigators were concerned she would take over the business if bailed.
He said Sawyer told officers ‘she was like a mother’ to the other girl’s in the house – and they observed she appeared to have a ‘degree of control’ over the women who followed her lead.
The court also heard when she spotted Markcrow in the police holding cells she yelled she would ‘take care of everything for you’.
Investigations are ongoing with police suspecting there could be more victims and ask for anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
Both Markcrow and Sawyer’s matters are adjourned until February 24.