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Man arrested in Gateshead as police raids target suspected Romanian prostitution gang

Published by The Chronicle Live
19th April 2017


Tyne & Wear
A suspected human trafficker was seized by police in Gateshead in an early morning raid today. The raid was one of a series which took place across the country in an effort to crack down on a Romanian crime gang, thought to be smuggling women into the country for the purposes of prostitution.

A 29-year-old man was arrested in Watt Street, Bensham, Gateshead on suspicion of conspiring to traffick for sexual exploitation and conspiring to incite prostitution, as part of an operation by Lancashire Police, working with Northumbria Police officers.

Across the country a further seven arrests were made, with six men and one woman taken from addresses in Blackburn, Preston and Blackpool, in Lancashire, as well as Evesham, near Worcester. All seven are currently in custody, on suspicion of the same charge.

Eight women, who are suspected of being trafficked from Romania to be used as prostitutes, were discovered during the raids. Lancashire Police force says the women’s “safeguarding and welfare issues” are being addressed.

Officers say the arrests come as part of a long-running investigation by Lancashire Police’s human trafficking and modern slavery team, Op Proteus, into a Romanian organised crime group.

Detective Inspector Mark Vaughton, of Op Proteus, said: “I’d like to thank our colleagues in the other force areas and at the National Crime Agency for the assistance in co-ordinating and carrying out today’s activity. While this is just the latest phase of this operation today’s activities has seen both a number of people arrested and a number of women rescued from exploitation.

“Modern slavery is not something confined to history, it is still happening today, and it’s happening in Lancashire. We would urge you to look closer, modern slavery could be happening right in front of you – whether that’s in nail bars, car washes, rural businesses, brothels, massage parlours, or a property in your neighbourhood.”

Those arrested were three men aged 25, 28 and 31 at an address in Whitebirk Road, Blackburn; a 30-year-old man at Arkwright Road, Preston; a 29-year-old man in Walton-le-Dale; a 27-year-old woman at Station Road, Blackpool; a 29-year-old man at Watt Street, Gateshead; and a 24-year-old man at St Margaret’s Road, Evesham.