19 July 2017
Five men believed to be victims of a human trafficking network have been rescued in an NCA-led operation.
The five are thought to have been trafficked into the UK from Slovakia and forced to work with little or no access to the money they earned.
A man and woman, both aged 41, who are linked to a car wash business in Bristol, were arrested in the Brentry area of the city.
They are believed to be part of a wider organised crime group and have been taken into custody for interview.
They are also being investigated over associated money laundering and fraud offences.
NCA officers, supported by Avon and Somerset Police, arrested the pair on Tuesday morning and the five potential victims, all Slovak males, were safeguarded during the operation.
The men all volunteered to enter into the National Referral Mechanism – a government scheme to support trafficking victims.
They were escorted to a reception centre provided by Bristol City Council and were spoken to by the NCA’s vulnerable persons team.
Ian Glover, NCA branch commander, said: “Criminal networks involved in modern slavery and human trafficking operate by lying to innocent people about the promise of a better life.
“Very often victims end up being controlled; they are treated as commodities and exploited into forced labour or servitude.
“This type of investigation is an NCA priority and we are extremely grateful for the support we have received from Bristol City Council, the British Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Avon and Somerset Police and Home Office Immigration Enforcement.
“The NCA targets those involved in trafficking, working robustly with partners to protect the vulnerable and tackle criminals responsible for their trafficking and exploitation.”
Pete Anderson, Bristol City Council’s Safer Bristol Manager said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking have no place in our society but regrettably they exist, resulting in the exploitation of innocent people.
“We do not tolerate this criminal behaviour and work with partners in the Avon and Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership to pre-empt and disrupt activity as well as providing support and advice to victims.
“We will not stop in our efforts to reduce this abhorrent crime.”
If you suspect someone you know may be a victim of modern slavery, please report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
If you think they are in danger, please call your local police force on 101 (or 999 if a crime is in progress).