Brisbane man accused of running sex slave ring named as Matthew James Markcrow
A Brisbane man accused of drugging, tattooing and sexually enslaving young women in a case which has “shocked” police has appeared in court.
Matthew James Markcrow, 35, has been accused of keeping four women between the ages of 17 and 24 in “conditions of servitude of unlawful prostitution” in Mount Gravatt East, according to police.
The victims had allegedly been given stupefying drugs and tattooed as being “property” of Markrow, who has also been accused of covertly recording them having sex with men.
Markcrow allegedly used social media to find the women.
An image on Mackcrow’s Facebook shows four people with tattoos of the words “property of Matt M” topped with images of devil’s pitchfork and an angel halo.
He allegedly targeted victims who were “vulnerable” due to their age and “the fact they’d had some issues within their family unit”, according to Detective Inspector Juliet Hancock.
“I’ve been a police officer for 30 years. I’ve not seen this type of offending before,” said Hancock, the officer-in-charge of the Prostitution Enforcement Taskforce.
“It’s pretty hard to shock police. This is confronting.
“When you consider those aspects – vulnerable, young women being recruited, drugged, tattooed – that’s pretty confronting.
“I think a lot of people would think this is happening overseas. This has happened in Brisbane.”
“We’ve been shocked by this. We didn’t understand this was happening in Australia, let alone Brisbane.”
Some of the women were still under the influence of drugs when they were found and “may not know that they were exploited”, Hancock said.
Markcrow has been charged with 10 offences, including conducting a business involving servitude.
He appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday and was remanded in custody.
During a brief court appearance, Mackcrow gestured with a heart and mouthed “I love you” to two women sitting in the public gallery.
It is unknown how the women are connected to the case with the pair demanding privacy as they left the Brisbane court.
Markcrow’s co-accused Crystal Marie Sawyer, 23, also appeared in court.
She is accused of “conducting a business of unlawful prostitution”.
Police believe the victims’ living, work and financial conditions were controlled.
They are seeking to determine if there are more victims.