‘Slaves’ freed in inquiry into human trafficking

THREE men believed to be victims of slavery have been taken to a place of safety following a series of raids by police.
Picture: TSPLPicture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL

Officers from Avon and Somerset Police executed a series of warrants as part of Operation Wanderer, a probe into forced labour and human trafficking.

The operation involved three Traveller sites, a business unit and house in South Gloucestershire, and a residential property in Bristol.

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Police suggested that the men, one in his 30s, one in his 40s and one in his 50s, had allegedly been used as forced labour.

Two people have been arrested in connection with slavery offences, while five others have been detained on suspicion of offences including, cannabis production, money laundering and handling stolen goods.

A “significant quantity” of cash was found at one address, while a suspected stolen trailer and cannabis plants were seized from a farm in Somerset.

Chief Superintendent Julian Moss, head of CID at Avon and Somerset Police, said the force had launched an investigation into forced labour and human trafficking five weeks ago.

He said: “We know from talking with other police forces and charities that victims in such cases are often forced to live and work in poor and unsanitary conditions, sometimes with little or no pay.

“Some of those affected will not view themselves as victims and, even if they do, may have been unable to speak to the 
police or any other authorities for a variety of reasons.

“To the outside world the fear and intimidation faced by victims of forced labour on a daily basis are difficult to comprehend. Today’s operation is a very visible statement of our intent to protect people from this type of exploitation.”

Last month, three women were rescued from a house in London after allegedly being held captive for 30 years.

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