Four more human trafficking suspects have been held in Slovakia amid a major probe after raids took place in Scotland. Members of a suspected international human trafficking ring were arrested in the joint police raids in Glasgow last week which involved the Slovakian authorities and Europol. Three men and two women were held and have now appeared in court in Glasgow in connection with trafficking offences and prostitution following the intelligence-led operation.
Officers from the specialist crime division searched a number of houses in Govanhill and arrested two women from Slovakia, aged 25 and 40, two Slovakian men, aged 28 and 58, and a 35-year-old Nepalese man.
Three potential victims were also found by police and brought to safety on Thursday during the raids at properties in Allison Street, Calder Street and Langside Road.
The four men arrested in Slovakia this week were aged 40, 30, 26 and 23 and are due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
Police Scotland detective inspector Stevie McMillan said: “This forms part of what is still very much a live and ongoing enquiry and we will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and across Europe, to ensure anyone else who has been involved in this crime will be brought to justice.
“This is a significant development to ensure the individuals involved in this crime group cannot inflict the same misery and suffering upon other vulnerable victims.”
A statement from Europol said: “As a result of coordinated and joint operational activities, authorities from Slovakia and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for the purposes of sham marriages and sexual exploitation.
“Last week, house searches were performed in Glasgow by Police Scotland. Europol specialists were deployed on the spot to support the national authorities.
“As a result, five suspects were arrested and detained in police custody. Sixteen women – potential victims of trafficking – were also identified and were offered care and assistance by a specialised NGO.”
It added: “A significant amount of evidence – numerous travel documents, computer equipment, mobile phones and cash – was seized during the operation and will be used for further investigation.
“Two days ago, the second phase of this coordinated operation took place in Trebisov, Slovakia, where four search warrants and four arrests were executed.
“The modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.”