This morning (13/2) officers have executed a number of warrants to crack down on Modern Slavery in Milton Keynes.
Thames Valley Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit and officers from the Milton Keynes LPA, have today (13/02) carried out a number of warrants to tackle a potential people trafficking network.
An investigation has found that an organised crime group has been operating within Milton Keynes and is responsible for large quantities of class A drugs being brought in from London and then being dealt on the streets of Milton Keynes.
This group is using hand car washes as a front for their criminal activity and we believe individuals may be being trafficked into Milton Keynes, and might be the subject of modern slavery.
Warrants have been carried out at four hand car washes in Milton Keynes, and one in Bedford.
As a result we have safeguarded 30 people who are believed to be victims of modern slavery.
They are being supported by our partner agencies and charities.
Officers also carried out a number of warrants at 20 residential addresses.
We have seized a large quantity of cocaine, cannabis and also thousands of pounds worth of cash, and a Mercedes ML 250.
13 people have been arrested with offences on suspicion of offences such as modern slavery and people trafficking, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, and also immigration offences.
During this operation we have also worked with the Belgium Federal Police, through the National Crime Agency in order to safeguard a further six victims of modern slavery including a 16-year-old and 17 year-old boy.
We also arrested a further two individuals on human trafficking offences.
So in total we have arrested 15 people and safeguarded 36 people.
Detective Chief Inspector, Nicole Murphy of Milton Keynes Local Policing Area, said: “Today we have carried out a number of warrants to disrupt an organised crime group that has been operating in Milton Keynes.
“We have made a number of arrests and have safeguarded a number of individuals who we believe may have been subjected to modern slavery offences, and tackle a people smuggling network.
“To offer support to vulnerable individuals who may have been trafficked, or those who need help with drugs addiction, we have been working with Milton Keynes Council, HM Immigration, The Samaritans, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the Gang Master's Labour Abuse Authority and HMRC.
“Additionally we have disrupted this organised crime group, to stop them from bringing drugs into Milton Keynes, and protect our community from the damaging health and social effects of drug abuse.
“This organised crime group has used hand car washes in Milton Keynes, in order to act as a front to mask their criminal activity.
“By continued working with the community and our partners we hope to stop these groups from establishing roots within our communities in this way.
“In order to tackle serious and organised crime we need the public’s help and support. We would ask anyone who thinks someone is being exploited to please report it.
“Some of the common signs of modern slavery and exploitation can be found on our Hidden Harm page.
“If you have information which could assist us in tackling serious and organised crime please call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Detective Chief Inspector, Darran Hill of Thames Valley Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “Today’s operation has been hugely successful and in total we have safeguarded 36 people who we believe are the victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, made a number of arrests and also seized cash and drugs.
“This is the largest operation of its type carried out within the Thames Valley, and we have worked with a number of partners who have been key in the success of this operation in order to safeguard vulnerable individuals.
“As well as working with partner agencies and charities, we have also worked closely with the National Crime Agency, and the Belgium Federal Police.
“This is a perfect example of our campaign Stronghold which aims to work in partnership in order to tackle serious and organised crime.”
“We are dedicated to tackling these crime groups who seeks to exploit vulnerable people for their own material gain.
“We would urge communities to assist us in spotting the signs of modern slavery, so if you are going to a hand car wash, we would ask members of the public to be vigilant, are working conditions what they should be, does the car wash have a phone number?
“By reporting simple things like this you could be assisting us in stopping serious and organised crime.”