Police in Slovakia have made a series of arrests in connection with an alleged human trafficking ring in Glasgow.
Four people have been held in the eastern town of Trebišov following a major international investigation, according to Europol.
The intergovernmental policing body said it had “dismantled” what it described as an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for sham marriages and sexual exploitation.
The arrests in Slovakia on Monday followed series of raids last week in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, in which five people were arrested by Police Scotland in an operation which also involved officers from Europol, Glasgow City Council and Immigration Enforcement.
Europol, which described the investigation as “extensive and complex,” said 16 women were identified as potential victims of trafficking, adding that a “significant amount” of evidence had been seized.
In a statement, Europol, which provided operational and analytical support to police in both Scotland and Slovakia, said: “The modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socio-economic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad, and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.”
It added: “Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational and analytical support to Slovakia and the United Kingdom throughout the investigation.
Europol specialists in trafficking human beings delivered real-time cross-checks of the data gathered using a mobile office and data extraction device during the actions.”
The five arrested last week in Glasgow – Vojtech Gombar, 58, Anil Wagle, 35, Jana Sandorova, 25, Sylvia Racova, 40, and Adam Ratislav, 28 – all made private appearances at Glasgow Sheriff Court earlier this week on human trafficking charges.
All five, from Glasgow, made no plea or declaration and were remanded in custody.
They have been charged under the Asylum and Immigration Act for allegedly arranging for people to come to the UK with the intention of exploiting them.
All of the accused, except Sandorova, also face charges of arranging travel to the country for the purposes of forcing people into prostitution.
Gombar, Sandorova, Rocova and Ratislav have also been charged with keeping or managing or assisting in the management of a brothel.