Eight people have been arrested in London in connection with a suspected international human trafficking group, the Metropolitan Police said.
Five men and three women, aged between 26 and 50, were detained at addresses in East London on Tuesday by officers from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit. All eight suspects remain in custody at a police station in central London.
Thirty-three potential victims of human trafficking – 24 men, four women and five children – were recovered from four of the raided addresses. They have all been transferred to a place of safety.
A further three men and one woman were arrested after seven arrest warrants were executed in Romania.
The joint arrests were part of an international operation codenamed Operation Cardinas.
The investigation team has been made up of the Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit at the Met, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Romanian Police and Prosecutors, Europol, and Eurojust.
Dan Mihalache, the Romanian Ambassador in the UK, said: “Today’s activity provides a strong message against any form of exploitation and reiterates the Romanian authorities are committed to fighting modern slavery in close co-operation with European partners.”
The Metropolitan Police said: “Modern slavery is, and will continue to be, a priority for the Met. We will continue to do everything within our power to identify and apprehend those intent on trafficking human beings, and exploiting them for their own gain.
“The key partnerships between the Met, the Romanian authorities, Europol, Eurojust and all of our other partners have been crucial to furthering this investigation into organised people trafficking.
“We will continue this valuable work with our international partners to prevent continued exploitation and bring offenders to justice.”