MORE than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with human trafficking after a series of police raids.

The Metropolitan Police arrested a total of 17 people, 14 men and three women, aged between 17 and 50 years, in a series of early morning warrants today.

They were executedby officers from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime - Vulnerability Investigations Team with the support of Romanian police officers.

A total of 16 warrants in conjunction with the Territorial Support Group (TSG) at addresses in Brentwood, Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The 17 people were arrested on suspicion of modern slavery, controlling prostitution, Class A drug offences and Sec 5 firearm offences relating to a stungun.

They were taken to a central London police station where they remain in custody.

A total of 29 potential victims of human trafficking, all women aged from 20-40 years, were recovered from the London addresses. They have been taken a place of safety.

An additional four warrants were executed simultaneously in Romania resulting in the arrest of one man in Constanta.

The joint arrest phase marks the latter stages of an international operation called Operation Kelang.

The work has also been supported by the Joint Investigation Team made up of the Met’s Central Specialist Crime - Vulnerability Investigations Team, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the Romanian Police and Prosecutors, the Romanian Embassy, Eurolpol and Eurojust.

The operation was also supported by a number of charities and organisations supporting victims of modern slavery, including the Church of England and Refuge.

Detective Chief Inspector Richard McDonagh, from Specialist Crime - Vulnerability Investigations, said: "The Met recognises the seriousness of modern slavery and the devastation it brings to people’s lives. We have an investigative capability across Frontline Policing and have invested in specialist resources through our Central Specialist Crime – Vulnerability Investigations Team which tackles complex cases. This allows us to target offenders and support victims.

"Today’s synchronised operational activity spanned 16 addresses in east London and four addresses in Romania with the aim of, in one fell swoop, dismantling an organised crime network and providing support to the victims."

The Romanian Ambassador in the UK, Dan Mihalache, praised the joint efforts of the Metropolitan Police and the Romanian Police in combating trans-border criminality. He also underscored the Romanian authorities’ commitment in fighting trafficking in persons and in preserving a safe environment for all citizens, irrespective of their nationality.

The Romanian Police attaché in the UK, said: "Today's operation is another example of our excellent bilateral cooperation. The operation was organised simultaneously in both countries in perfect coordination.

"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.

"The Romanian Police is committed to continue its efforts in combating all forms of criminality together with the Metropolitan Police."