Four women have been fined €200 each after being arrested in a brothel in Galway over the weekend. 

At a special sitting of Galway District Court this afternoon, gardaí outlined how they believed the four had been trafficked into Ireland by a criminal gang. 

The women - aged 21, 22, 23 and 30 - are all originally from Romania. They denied they were working for pimps and instead claimed they were acting alone to raise money for their families. 

They were arrested at an apartment at An Larnach, Bohermore on Saturday night and immediately admitted to operating a brothel there.

The arrests were made an hour after gardaí questioned a man leaving the apartment who said he had just paid for sexual favours.

The court heard the women were being charged €700 a week to rent the apartment, which is a short distance from the city centre. 

Detective Sergeant Willie Byrne said gardaí had been carrying out surveillance on the apartment over the last number of weeks.

He gave evidence that gardaí did not know how long the women were in Ireland but they had been in Mayo last week and after spending a week in Galway, it was their intention to go to Wexford next week.

In reply to Judge Gerard Furlong, Det Byrne said he did not believe the women when they told him they worked alone. He told the judge it was his belief the women were "under the control of Dublin or Belfast-based pimps."

Gardaí confiscated €5,000 cash from the women.

Ruling that the women were being used by others not before the court, Judge Furlong convicted and fined each of them €200 and asked gardaí to put them in contact with the relevant organisations who would help them.