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Raids across east London target international ring of suspected human traffickers

PUBLISHED: 11:00 14 November 2019

Police carried out dawn raids on addresses in Barking and Dagenham, Brentwood, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. Picture: MPS

Police carried out dawn raids on addresses in Barking and Dagenham, Brentwood, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. Picture: MPS

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Almost 30 women have been found during dawn raids targeting an international ring of suspected human traffickers.

A total of 14 men and three women, aged 17 to 50, were arrested following the series of early morning raids on Thursday, November 14, in Barking and Dagenham, Brentwood, Havering, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets.

Det Ch Insp Richard McDonagh said: "Today's synchronised operational activity spanned 16 addresses in east London and four in Romania with the aim of, in one fell swoop, dismantling an organised crime network and providing support to the victims."

The joint operation between the Met, local officers, the Territorial Support Group and Romanian Police saw 16 warrants executed.

From these addresses, 17 people were arrested on suspicion of modern slavery, controlling prostitution, Class A drug offences and firearm offences linked to a stungun.

All 17 suspects have been taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

A total of 29 potential victims of human trafficking, all women aged from 20 to 40 years, were found at the addresses and taken to a place of safety.

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Four warrants were executed at the same time in Romania resulting in the arrest of one man in the city of Constanta.

The arrests mark the later stages of Operation Kelang.

Det Ch Insp McDonagh said: "The Met recognises the seriousness of modern slavery and the devastation it brings to people's lives."

The Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Dan Mihalache, praised the joint efforts of the Met and Romanian police in, emphasising the Romanian authorities' commitment to fighting trafficking.

The Romanian Police attaché in the UK said: "Today's operation is another example of our excellent bilateral cooperation.

"The operation was organised simultaneously in both countries in perfect coordination. Romanian police officers working shoulder to shoulder with our British partners is a great achievement, a proof of our mutual permanent support and a great professional reward.

"The Romanian Police is committed to continue its efforts in combating all forms of criminality together with the Met."

The work was also supported by the Met's central specialist crime - vulnerability investigations team, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Romanian Police and Prosecutors, the Romanian embassy, Europol and Eurojust.

Charities and organisations including the Church of England and Refuge were also involved.

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