Officers from local forces in Leeds, Birmingham, Reading, Southampton, and Oldham executed warrants at individual addresses in these specific parts of the country today (14/06). Staff from the National Crime Agency, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SW ROCU), and local authorities in each area assisted them.
On suspicion of human trafficking and money laundering, three men and one woman were arrested.
Seven addresses were searched in total.
One suspect has been arrested in Birmingham.
Two suspects have been arrested in Reading.
One suspect has been arrested in Southampton.
In addition, more than £5,000 in cash and several mobile phones were seized. In Southampton and Reading, two illegal brothels were discovered.
Five victims were rescued from Reading, Southampton, and Oldham and are now receiving assistance and support from our partners and specialist officers.
“This was a major international operation led by us to arrest some of the suspects who we believe are members of a Europe-wide organised crime group that traffics victims from Romania into the UK,” Wiltshire Police Detective Inspector Angela Shipp said.
“These illegal organised gangs operate all over the world – they know no borders – and cause misery to countless victims who are often enslaved, forced to live in often deplorable conditions with no quality of life, and forced into sexual exploitation to survive.”
“The victims we rescued today were occupied and are now being cared for by specially trained officers.”
“Today’s operation was a success thanks to our collaborative efforts with our partners here and abroad, as we were able to apprehend four people on suspicion of modern slavery crimes.” All have been taken to Gablecross Police Station in Swindon or Melksham Police Station for questioning.”
“Ensuring our county is hostile to anyone involved in modern slavery or human trafficking is a priority for Wiltshire Police, and it is one of the reasons why I am so pleased no stone has been left unturned in order to bring those vile individuals involved in this appalling trade to justice,” Wiltshire PCC Philip Wilkinson said.
“Protecting the weak and vulnerable victims is of the utmost importance to me, and working with other agencies with the same common goal has allowed Wiltshire Police to play a role in that protection.”
“Slavery did not die with its abolition in previous centuries; it simply found new ways to exist and exploit vulnerable victims.” Freedom and the right to life are the most fundamental human rights that must be vigorously defended, and this proactive policing operation has demonstrated to gangmasters and their enforcers that there is nowhere to hide – Wiltshire is not a place for you or your criminal activities.”
If you suspect modern slavery or human trafficking in your neighbourhood, please report any suspicious incidents to 101 or our website. In an emergency, dial 999. You can also make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111.