A EUROPE-wide police investigation targeting human trafficking, which included raids in Coventry, has netted 24 suspects.
The operation led by Police Scotland saw raids at five addresses in England, four in Scotland and 23 in Romania in the early hours of September 9.
Premises in Coventry were targeted by police, in addition to others in Leicester and Northampton.
Ten arrests in Britain were connected to serious and organised crime and human trafficking, with the remaining 14 suspects held by Romanian police.
People thought to be victims of human trafficking were also found by officers.
The National Crime Agency, Romanian counter-organised crime units and Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit co-ordinated the operation.
Det Insp Adrian Wallis, who heads up the investigation, said: “The arrests are the result of working closely with our partners in the NCA and officers in Romania over the last year, to identify those involved in this exploitation.
“The investigation isn’t over yet, however, today’s action should send a very clear message: trafficking won’t be tolerated, and we will continue to work with partners, nationally and internationally, to identify those involved in slavery and exploitation and to bring them to justice.”
Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi, Head of Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit said: “Human trafficking, exploitation and modern slavery has no place in Scotland. Organised Crime Groups who enslave and traffic people do it for no other reason than financial gain. People are treated as a commodity that can be bought and sold, and the traffickers have no thought or consideration for the impact of their actions on their victims or for the communities in which the victims are exploited.
“Borders are meaningless to traffickers. Their illegal trade has a global reach and crosses national and international boundaries which is why our response has to be co-ordinated across agencies and through international co-operation.
“We continue to build our relationships with law enforcement agencies in other jurisdictions such as the Romanian Authorities and we continue to develop these partnerships through the National Crime Agency. International co-operation has never been more important to allow us to tackle trafficking gangs wherever they are and wherever our investigation leads us.”
Romanian ambassador to the UK Dan Mihalache, said: “It is a great pleasure to record today another major success in the field of police work in times when crime sees no borders and its sophistication increases day by day.
“Another long investigation reached fruition as a result of the combined efforts of Police Scotland and Romanian Police and serious charges have been brought against the members of a criminal network operating in Scotland and Romania.”
West Midlands Police has been contacted for details on the investigation in Coventry.
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