British and Romanian police on Wednesday arrested 14 people in coordinated swoops on alleged organised criminals involved in sex trafficking, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
Police raided several properties in London, including the upmarket Kensington and Chelsea neighbourhood, early on Wednesday and arrested two men and four women, aged between 25 and 39, the force said.
Those arrested are “believed to be trafficking women from Romania to the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation by running a purported high-class escort business within London”, it added.
Two Romanian women were found inside the properties and are receiving police support, the Met said, with drugs, cash and a samurai sword also seized.
Romanian police carried out raids on the same alleged organised crime group in Romania, arresting seven men and one woman as well as seizing several luxury cars, money and properties.
The group was established in the capital Bucharest and was active in the past 10 years, Romania’s anti-mafia directorate (DIICOT) said.
The victims were advertised “on different escort websites in the UK and described as persons selling sexual services”, the directorate said.
It added the suspects made around three million euros ($3.2 million) from the victims’ exploitation.
Some of them were underage and socially vulnerable, including a 17-year-old Romanian girl with whom a suspect had sexual relations, filmed it and then used the footage to blackmail her, DIICOT said.
“Unfortunately, this type of exploitation is still happening across London,” Detective Inspector Jim Madden with the Met said.
“The Met’s Modern Slavery Team works around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and those who are subsequently sexually exploited,” he added.