Seven people have been arrested after an investigation into human trafficking that spanned four counties.
Five men and one woman were arrested during raids today at six addresses in Blackburn, Preston, Luton, Greater Manchester and Northampton.
Another man was detained at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool.
All those arrested are suspected of conspiring to traffic for sexual exploitation.
They are currently in custody.
A number of women believed to have been trafficked into the UK from Romania were also rescued from inside the properties and taken to safety. They are now being looked after by specially trained officers.
The investigation was led by Lancashire Constabulary, working with Greater Manchester Police, Northamptonshire Police and Bedfordshire Police.
Det Sgt Stu Peall, of Lancashire Constabulary’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Team, said: “Today’s arrests are the result of a long running investigation into a Romanian organised crime group which came to our attention through a number of suspected brothels.
“We are committed to investigating human trafficking and modern slavery and taking robust action against those willing to exploit others for financial gain.
“Modern slavery is a difficult crime to detect and we would urge the public to report any concerns within their communities.
“Acting on intelligence, we have today rescued several women from sexual exploitation and are working with them to secure a better future.
“We will now work to bring those responsible to justice.”
To pass on information anonymously you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or complete an anonymous form online www.crimestoppers-uk.org . When you contact them your identity will be protected.
If you think that someone is in immediate danger call 999, if you suspect slavery is happening and there is no immediate threat to life then contact us on 101.
Lancashire Victims Services are also here to offer help and support, even if you haven’t reported a crime to the police. Contact them on 0300 323 0085.
There is also a national Modern Slavery Helpline offering confidential help and advice, you can also report information to them on 08000 121 700.