In a disturbing new twist in the Irish crime racket, more Irish criminals are associating themselves with foreign gangs involved in on the sex trade and human trafficking.

A report in the Herald this week claims that while many non-Irish women are smuggled into the country by "recruiters" from abroad, they often end up being controlled and exploited by Irish pimps in the Republic.

Detective Inspector John O'Reilly, who has interviewed hundreds of victims and tracked down their abusers, believes that criminals from all nations allow themselves to get involved in this very lucrative crime - and the Irish are no exception.

O'Reilly told the Herald that victims are often "broken down" by their traffickers in their home country so that they became "compliant" and can be sold to Irish criminals.

"I couldn't say that there is a prevalence (of Irish or foreign human trafficking gangs) in Ireland, the obvious place for prostitution is through pimps - and pimps often come from Ireland," O'Reilly told the Herald.

"If you were selling girls, who would you sell them to? It all depends on the economics of it, it can go either way, they are not all foreign, there are local people involved."

Recruiters look for easy targets in their home country - men, women and children who are looking to escape a life of poverty or abuse - and are all too willing to believe they may have found a way out.

"Humans are a commodity to traffickers, if you have a gun, you can sell it once, if you have a person, you can sell her night after night," said O'Reilly.

"From an individual criminal's point of view, it is more lucrative than firearms or drugs."

"We need to use language that conjures up an idea in people's minds so they understand exactly what is at stake when referring to traffickers - to me they're con artists, kidnappers, potential murderers, serial rapists," O'Reilly told the Herald.