More than a dozen people have been arrested in London and Romania yesterday as part of a specialist investigation into a criminal group believed to be trafficking women into the UK for sexual exploitation.
Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, in conjunction with the Romanian National Police and Eurojust, arrested nine men and five women on the morning of Wednesday, 18 May, as part of an operation targeting an Organised Crime Group (OCG).
The OCG is believed to be trafficking women from Romania to the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation by running a purported high class escort business within London.
It is believed large scale profits are being generated by the OCG through the ‘business,’ which are then being laundered through UK banks and transmitted back into Romanian back accounts for the benefit of the high ranking OCG members.
Yesterday, officers from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, supported by the Taskforce (Territorial Support Group) and specialist search dogs, executed six search warrants across London and arrested two men and four women, aged between 25 and 39.
Officers also seized a Samurai Sword, Class A drugs, cash and high value goods during searches in Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Camden.
In addition, two women, both Romanian nationals, were found inside the properties. They are being supported by specially trained officers and will receive medical treatment and further support.
Meanwhile, ten warrants were executed simultaneously in Romania targeting the same OCG and seven men and one woman were arrested.
The Romanian National Police seized four cars, worth more than 350,000EUR. They have also applied to seize assets totalling 1,000,000EUR.
Enquiries linked to the investigation will continue throughout the day.
Detective Inspector Jim Madden, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said:“This investigation will continue as we look to find everyone involved, protect vulnerable victims and uncover the true scale of this illegal operation.
“Unfortunately, this type of exploitation is still happening across London. The Met’s Modern Slavery Team works around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and those who are subsequently sexually exploited, and we play a role in protecting and supporting hundreds of victims each year.
“As seen in this case, we work closely with national and international partners to share intelligence and identify and detain criminals who profit from exploiting vulnerable people.”
Communities have an important role to play in recognising abuse. If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.
If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, please call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733. This is the best way to get support to anyone you suspect might be a victim.
You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.