17 nabbed after British police smash suspected global sex trafficking gang in London

British armed police patrol London's Leicester Square in July 2005, following the suicide bombings on the London transport system. The photo, widely published, was transmitted into the Associated Press World wide network directly from a pda using Phojo, from a nearby wifi point.This copy was sent into the Idruna FTP, via Phojo, at the same compression as the original transmission.photo by max nash

LONDON, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) — Seventeen people were arrested on Thursday as British police smashed a suspected global sex trafficking gang in east London.

British police officers discovered 29 alleged victims as they busted a Romanian gang accused of bringing women into Britain to work as prostitutes.

The 14 men and three women, aged 17 to 50, were arrested just after 0600 GMT on suspicion of modern slavery, controlling prostitution, class A drug offences and possessing a stun gun. They remain in custody at a central London police station.

The London police force’s central specialist crime team carried out dawn raids at 16 addresses in Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Brentwood and Tower Hamlets, with the support of Romanian police officers.

The alleged victims of human trafficking, all women aged between 20 and 40, were recovered and taken to a place of safety. A man was also arrested in Constanta, Romania, media reports said.

The operation was supported by a team that included the Crown Prosecution Service, Romanian police and prosecutors, the Romanian embassy, Europol, and Eurojust.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McDonagh, from the Met’s Modern Slavery and Kidnap Unit, said, “The Met recognises the seriousness of modern slavery and the devastation it brings to people’s lives.”

Dan Mihalache, Romanian ambassador to the UK, praised the joint operation.

A spokesman for Romanian police in the UK said, “The operation was organised simultaneously in both countries in perfect co-ordination. Romanian police officers working shoulder to shoulder with our British partners is a great achievement, a proof of our mutual permanent support and a great professional reward.”