24 arrested in cross-border sex trafficking operation

Twenty-four people have been arrested during a cross-border operation targeting an organised crime gang suspected of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Sep 9, 2020
By Paul Jacques

Ten individuals were detained in the UK following the internationally-coordinated operation led by Police Scotland.

Fourteen suspects are being held by Romanian police.

A number of potential trafficking victims were also recovered from several addresses in the UK and Romania.

Various locations were targeted in the early hours of this morning (September 9) in a joint day of enforcement involving simultaneous deployments across Scotland, England and Romania.

Officers raided four premises in Glasgow and Aberdeen, five in England (Leicester, Coventry and Northampton) as well as 23 addresses across Romania.

Detective Inspector Adrian Wallis, who led the operation, said: “Today’s enforcement action was the result of a lengthy investigation, with Police Scotland working alongside our counterparts in Romania.

“The arrests made today are the result of working closely with our partners in the National Crime Agency (NCA) and officers in Romania over the last 12 months to identify those involved in this exploitation.

Officers from Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit worked with the NCA and Romanian Police’s Directorate for Countering Organised Crime – Trafficking in Human Beings Department.

Further support was provided by officers from the Leicestershire, West Midlands and Northamptonshire forces.

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 coordinated across agencies and through international cooperation.

“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 NCA. International cooperation has never been more important to allow us to tackle trafficking gangs wherever they are and wherever our investigation leads us.”

Rob Richardson, head of the NCA’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, said combating modern slavery and human trafficking was one of its “highest priorities”.

“Our aim is to try and break the traffickers’ business model – making it harder for them to operate, harder for them to advertise their victims online and working with the financial sector to make it harder for them to launder the profits of their crimes,” he added.

“We work with partners in the UK and overseas to pursue offenders and safeguard victims at home and abroad and today’s activity demonstrates that in action.”

Dan Mihalache, the ambassador of Romania in the UK, praised the operation as a “major success in the field of police work in times when crime sees no borders and its sophistication increases day by day”.

He added: “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.”

Det Insp Wallis said today’s action “should send a very clear message” that trafficking will not be tolerated in Scotland.

“We will continue to work with partners, nationally and internationally, to identify those involved in slavery and exploitation and to bring them to justice,” he added.

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