NORFOLK: Now neighbouring force takes active role in international human traffic clamp down
JUST weeks after Cambs police targeted addresses across Fenland and the rest of the county, an investigation by one of Norfolk Constabulary s specialist units has led to the arrest of 15 people suspected of being involved in an international human traffic
JUST weeks after Cambs police targeted addresses across Fenland and the rest of the county, an investigation by one of Norfolk Constabulary's specialist units has led to the arrest of 15 people suspected of being involved in an international human trafficking network.
Officers from the Force's Pentameter 2 Team took part in raids across London and Surrey at the weekend, in a joint operation with the Metropolitan Police and Surrey Constabulary to target online brothels.
More than 100 officers searched 19 premises and arrested 15 men and women suspected of being involved in a criminal network managing people trafficking and prostitution. Officers found 28 victims, who have now been offered support, and recovered criminal proceeds totalling at least £200,000.
The operation was the culmination of intelligence gleaned by Norfolk Constabulary's Operation Pentameter - part of a national campaign to crack down on gangs involved in human trafficking and sexual exploitation - and the Metropolitan Police Clubs and Vice Unit.
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Launched in October 2007, work by Norfolk's Pentameter team had already led to raids on over 50 premises across Norfolk, 18 arrests and the discovery and support of 26 victims.
Intelligence gathered by the Pentameter team during their investigations identified a major criminal network operating online brothels and trafficking victims in the south east
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In the past two months, the team has worked closely with its counterparts in the Met and Surrey to launch this weekend's operation.
Detective Chief Inspector Christine Wilson, from Norfolk's Vulnerable People Directorate and SIO for Pentameter 2, said: "This major operation successfully disrupted a long standing organised criminal network.
"Human trafficking is simply modern day slavery and, as we've discovered, it is happening in this county. Men using prostitutes must stop and think how they may be exploiting vulnerable women."
An investigation by Norfolk's Pentameter team has uncovered human trafficking networks linked to south East Asia from where women are brought to the UK and "debt-bonded".
Ordered to pay debts of up to £25,000 for travel and board, the women are forced into prostitution and sold between traffickers to pay off their "debt".
Since October, work carried out by the team has led to:
56 premises in Norfolk visited - including 30 suspected brothels and massage parlours.
18 arrests in Norfolk and another 7 in the London area.
Seven people, originating from Thailand, Malaysia, Lithuania, Poland and China, charged with human trafficking and prostitution offences.
26 suspected victims recovered, from places including Thailand, Malaysia, Lithuania, Moldova, Eritrea and Poland.
DCI Wilson added: "We know that victims of human trafficking come from a variety of backgrounds - they may be male or female, adult or child. They are not always victims of sexual exploitation but they may be forced to work in servitude in a range of employment sectors."
"Norfolk Constabulary will not tolerate any form of exploitation and this weekend's operation is just part of our continued effort to free victims, disrupt organised criminal networks and prosecute offenders to combat this dreadful crime.