Officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland conducted two searches in the Belfast area today, Thursday, 17 June as part of its involvement in a joint operation with judicial authorities and police in Romania.
Two men aged 29 and 34 were arrested on suspicion of a number of offences.
This operation was set up specifically to disrupt and dismantle Romanian organised crime groups who are working in Northern Ireland and Romania.
Detective Inspector Gina Quinn from the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit said: “The Organised Crime Group targeted today is believed to be responsible for recruiting and trafficking people from Romania into Northern Ireland for prostitution and money laundering."
Speaking about the operation Detective Inspector Quinn said: “This operation, which also included two officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland assisting police in Romania, has been made possible through a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) agreement between the UK and Romania. Eurojust, the EU agency set up to promote co-ordination between member states in relation to serious and organised crime, has partly funded the operation. The operation was assisted and supported by Europol and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland and the Service for Countering Organised Crime (SCCO) Romania.
“Working with law enforcement colleagues we believe we may have halted the activities of an organised crime gang involved in controlling prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering in Northern Ireland and Romania.
“Crime groups choose to exploit some of the most vulnerable people within our societies, preying on their vulnerabilities and exploiting them for their own ends.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland is determined to try and eradicate all harm caused to our communities and that is why our involvement in this joint operation is a priority.
“We are committed to protecting victims and targeting those who exploit or cause harm. We are working as hard as we can but we cannot tackle this problem alone. We rely on our strong working relationships with a range of partners but we need the public’s help. I would also ask people to contact us with any concerns that they may have by calling us on the non-emergency number 101, or submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org/ There’s also a Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.”
Detective Inspector Quinn concluded: “We will continue to disrupt organised crime groups operating here in Northern Ireland”.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that will assist the investigation to contact us on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.