People traffickers have been warned the net is closing on them in Lancashire, after a raid on a suspected brothel in Preston.
Three Romanian men were arrested and four women taken into police care after 50 officers targeted a rented terraced house in Ribbleton.
This area of policing is complex and identifying human trafficking/modern slavery can be difficult.Insp Paul McLernon
Police are continuing to speak to the four young women from Romania amid fears they were brought to Preston as sex slaves by a human trafficking ring.
The women were last night being interviewed by specialist officers to establish how and why they came to Preston and whether they are victims of organised crime.
The raid, part of Operation Hexton, was carried out following information - including a tweet - from residents living near the property in Longworth Street.
And later the officer in charge warned there could be other raids in the pipeline.
“We executed a warrant because we believe some of the females living there are being exploited for purposes of prostitution,” said Insp Paul McLernon. “We have arrested three men on suspicion of exploiting these females. The girls will be interviewed by specially trained officers to decide whether they are victims of human trafficking for sexual purposes.”
The four women, who are believed to have been brought to the UK from Romania, were all found at a house when police and National Crime Agency officers swooped. The men arrested at the address were aged 33, 35 and 42. They were taken to Preston Police Station, while the women were interviewed in Bamber Bridge.
Insp McLernon said: “This area of policing is complex and identifying human trafficking/modern slavery can be difficult. In many cases organised crime groups are behind the trafficking of people into the UK.
“This action shows our commitment to tackling this issue and we want to encourage more victims to come forward knowing that there is help out there for them. I would urge anyone who suspects someone is being treated in this way to contact us.”