Modern slavery victims rescued in north London in joint operation

Modern slavery victims rescued in north London in joint operation

Victims from Romania forced to endure prostitution, financial exploitation, violence in UK, says Europol

By Aysu Bicer

LONDON (AA) — A total of seven individuals who had fallen victim to modern slavery were successfully rescued in northern London on Friday morning in a joint operation involving the UK Metropolitan Police, Europol, Eurojust, and Romanian law enforcement.

"On an action day carried out in August 2023, police apprehended the Romanian nationals in multiple simultaneous raids carried out in London, UK, and Iasi, Romania," Europol said in a statement.

"The investigation revealed that the suspects had been bringing vulnerable women from Romania to the UK. In total, eight victims were safeguarded as a result of the coordinated operation. Law enforcement seized a range of weapons, massive amounts of cash, jewellery and a luxury vehicle," it added.

According to Europol, the victims were typically lured from Romania and transported to the UK, where they were subjected to sexual exploitation.

The organized crime syndicate operated an escort agency in London, using it as a front to advertise the sexual services of these victims.

Once bookings were made, the criminal group would deliver the Romanian women to clients and take a significant portion of the payment, leaving the victims financially constrained.

The victims were also burdened with expenses for transportation, accommodation, and advertising, further solidifying their reliance on the traffickers.

The criminals employed threats and violence to maintain control over the exploited women. Beyond the suspicion of coercing women into prostitution, the traffickers are also being investigated for engaging in money laundering activities.

The head of the UK Metropolitan Police modern slavery unit, Detective Inspector Melanie Lillywhite, emphasized that this intervention has had a significant disruptive impact on the activities of the organized criminal network.

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