Suspected illegal immigrants were discovered in three houses during a day of action against human trafficking launched by Lancashire Police.
Five people were found in a house on School Lane, Lostock Hall, during a police raid under Operation Eagle shortly after 9am on Wednesday.
Neighbours on the quiet leafy lane watched as the drama unfolded, with two police vans, a police car and unmarked vehicles parked at the scene.
An attempt was made to make a forced entry with a battering ram through the PVC front door, but those inside the property let officers in after a few minutes of trying.
The landlords of the semi detached house, where three men and two women of East Asian origin were found, arrived at the scene a short time later.
A couple were spoken to by officers as a search of the detached garage took place.
Several arrests were made for suspected immigration offences, though police say there is no suggestion of human trafficking at the address.
Two people were also found in a property containing two rented flats on Beech Street South, Broadgate, Preston, in a simultaneous raid believed to be linked to the first address.
Officers from the Gangmaster Licensing Authority, HMRC and the UK Border Agency have joined forces with officers as part of a week of action to raise awareness of slavery, human trafficking and the exploitation of vulnerable people brought into the UK.
Det Insp Lee Anfield said: “Today’s actions highlights that modern slavery and human trafficking could be going on in any neighbourhood.
“In this instance, arrests have not been made in relation to human trafficking but have been made for immigration offences. We carried out the raid after receiving community intelligence.”
Modern slavery or human trafficking is the movement of a person into conditions of exploitation, using deception, coercion, abuse of power or the abuse of the person’s vulnerability. Lancashire police says there are four broad categories of exploitation linked to modern slavery – sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude and organ harvesting.
Victims usually live in fear, often do not speak English, do not understand what is going on and comply because of threats of violence or fear of recrimination against their families back home.
In 2013 there were 1,746 referrals of potential victims of trafficking across the UK.