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Feb 16th 2017
Four more human trafficking suspects have been held in Slovakia amid a major probe after raids took place in Scotland.
Members of a suspected international human trafficking ring were arrested in the joint police raids in Glasgow last week which involved the Slovakian authorities and Europol.
Three men and two women were held and have now appeared in court in Glasgow in connection with trafficking offences and prostitution following the intelligence-led operation.
Officers from the specialist crime division searched a number of houses in Govanhill and arrested two women from Slovakia, aged 25 and 40, two Slovakian men, aged 28 and 58, and a 35-year-old Nepalese man.
Three potential victims were also found by police and brought to safety on Thursday during the raids at properties in Allison Street, Calder Street and Langside Road.
The four men arrested in Slovakia this week were aged 40, 30, 26 and 23 and are due to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
Police Scotland detective inspector Stevie McMillan said: “This forms part of what is still very much a live and ongoing enquiry and we will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies, both in the UK and across Europe, to ensure anyone else who has been involved in this crime will be brought to justice.
“This is a significant development to ensure the individuals involved in this crime group cannot inflict the same misery and suffering upon other vulnerable victims.”
A statement from Europol said: “As a result of coordinated and joint operational activities, authorities from Slovakia and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for the purposes of sham marriages and sexual exploitation. Last week, house searches were performed in Glasgow by Police Scotland. Europol specialists were deployed on the spot to support the national authorities. As a result, five suspects were arrested and detained in police custody. Sixteen women – potential victims of trafficking – were also identified and were offered care and assistance by a specialised NGO.”
It added: “A significant amount of evidence – numerous travel documents, computer equipment, mobile phones and cash – was seized during the operation and will be used for further investigation. Two days ago, the second phase of this coordinated operation took place in Trebisov, Slovakia, where four search warrants and four arrests were executed. The modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.”
- Four more arrested following Govanhill sex trafficking raid Glasgow Evening Times
- Four more people arrested over alleged human trafficking The Scotsman
- Four more human trafficking suspects busted after cops smash Scottish Sun
- UPDATE – More arrests made in southside human trafficking case Kirkintilloch Herald
FEB 15th 2017
Police in Slovakia have made a series of arrests in connection with an alleged human trafficking ring in Glasgow. Four people have been held in the eastern town of Trebišov following a major international investigation, according to Europol. The intergovernmental policing body said it had “dismantled” what it described as an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for sham marriages and sexual exploitation. The arrests in Slovakia on Monday followed series of raids last week in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, in which five people were arrested by Police Scotland in an operation which also involved officers from Europol, Glasgow City Council and Immigration Enforcement.
Europol, which described the investigation as “extensive and complex,” said 16 women were identified as potential victims of trafficking, adding that a “significant amount” of evidence had been seized.
200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland
In a statement, Europol, which provided operational and analytical support to police in both Scotland and Slovakia, said:
“The modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socio-economic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad, and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.” It added: “Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational and analytical support to Slovakia and the United Kingdom throughout the investigation. Europol specialists in trafficking human beings delivered real-time cross-checks of the data gathered using a mobile office and data extraction device during the actions.” The five arrested last week in Glasgow –
- Vojtech Gombar, 58
- Anil Wagle, 35
- Jana Sandorova, 25
- Sylvia Racova, 40
- Adam Ratislav, 28
– all made private appearances at Glasgow Sheriff Court earlier this week on human trafficking charges. All five, from Glasgow, made no plea or declaration and were remanded in custody. They have been charged under the Asylum and Immigration Act for allegedly arranging for people to come to the UK with the intention of exploiting them. All of the accused, except Sandorova, also face charges of arranging travel to the country for the purposes of forcing people into prostitution. Gombar, Sandorova, Rocova and Ratislav have also been charged with keeping or managing or assisting in the management of a brothel.
Feb 14th 2017
Hundreds of sex trafficking victims helped in Glasgow Glasgow Evening Times Feb 14th 2017
It comes after we reported on an alleged human trafficking ring which was was busted in Govanhill last week.
Many of the 16 women who were previously recovered by police were supported by TARA. In the most extreme cases women, typically Nigerian, Vietnamese, Albanian and Chinese, have escaped from their abusers not even knowing what country they are in, never mind how to get help.
TARA staff warn the figures are “just the tip of the iceberg”, with an estimated 1300 victims of trafficking and modern slavery thought to be in Scotland at any one time.
The organisation, which is run by Glasgow City Council and funded by the Scottish Government, was initially set up in 2004 to help victims from Glasgow, but due to the surge in demand for help they expanded to cover the whole of Scotland in 2007.
Survivors, who range between 16-years-old and their late 50s, have told of how they were raped, beaten and abused by their traffickers and warned if they fled they would be hunted down and killed, while others have had threats to their families and children back home.
They thought they were moving abroad to start a better life, only to find out they were being forced into prostitution, and sham marriage.
Bronagh Andrew, TARA’s coordinator, explained: “Once here, women will be told what’s going to happen to them. They may refuse and are subject to sexual assaults, physical assaults, they have been raped. Women talk about being forced to watch pornography so they know how to behave with the people who are paying for sex.”
Bronagh explained one woman she helped had jumped out of a car in Glasgow’s city centre in a desperate attempt to escape her abusers.
She had no clue where she was and no idea how to get help.
Bronagh said: “Years ago we had a young woman who escaped from a car in traffic lights and it was a Subway sandwich shop she ran into. She thought she was in Toronto. If you don’t even know what part of the world you’re in, you don’t have English as your language then taking a step through the door is scary. Traffickers may have told you over months that they will find you, they’ll kill you, they’ll kill your family or you’ll be put in jail. You don’t even know where to tell the police or how to tell them where you’ve been. It’s a real challenge.”
MEMBERS of the public are being urged to help spot the signs of trafficking, which are often difficult to detect due to victims being constantly moved around.
In some cases, residents may complain to their local councillors about men ringing their doorbells late at night, or hearing footsteps constantly in a neighbours home but never seeing anyone leave.
Bronagh said: “These women are hiding in plain sight. People are seeing them but they are not identifying them. It’s in the traffickers interest that they are not identified, so we want to improve awareness. People don’t know what to do. Quite often people will think something is a bit off about a situation, but they won’t want to call the police and say ‘I hear footsteps upstairs but I never see anyone.’ or ‘I think something gives me the creeps about upstairs.”
For the women who do manage to escape, the journey to recovery and getting their lives back is a long and painful one, with often complex challenges requiring months or years of work.
They suffer post-traumatic stress, have flashbacks, headaches and unexplained body pains as a result of the weeks, months or sometimes years of abuse they have endured.
OFTEN victims are in their late stages of pregnancy or have complex physical or mental health problems when they come to TARA, having been turfed out of brothels as they would draw too much attention in their condition.
“Women come to us in the late stages of pregnancy and who have had no antenatal care, no treatment at all and no access to services,” said Bronagh.
“We have had women who have had their children taken in to the next room by the traffickers when a punter arrives, and they can hear their child screaming. They’re expected to have sex in those conditions. It is used as a tool to keep her under control.”
The long road to recovery is helped by TARA, who typically support victims for 12-18 months once they are referred.
“What we find is that when women get out of that situation, the majority don’t return back into prostitution,” said Bronagh.
“While there’s a lot of stuff they have to get over, they show amazing resilience and strength. They want to do what they thought they would be coming here to do. Most of them make a claim for asylum and they can fully access services and education here, which they make the most of.”
If you want to report suspicions about trafficking or need help, contact uk Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, Police Scotland on 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
Feb 13th 2017
Feb 10th 2017
Feb 5th 2017
IN FULL http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4193914/Former-Freemason-caught-child-sex-sting-police.html
31st Jan 2017
Sold into slavery at age of six, the Vietnamese boy freed after he was arrested on a hash farm in Lanarkshire
A Vietnamese human trafficking victim forced to work in a Scottish cannabis farm has given a searing insight into the hell of being enslaved.
He was one of an estimated 3000 Vietnamese children in forced labour in the UK, a number of which end up in nail bars and illegal cannabis farms across Scotland.
Yesterday, it emerged that a Vietnamese teenager had been found cowering in bushes in Dumbarton after fleeing human traffickers. The 16-year-old had been smuggled through Russia to Scotland, where police believe he was to be used by a crime gang, possibly in a cannabis farm.
His experiences reflect those of Dinh, who was trafficked from the age of six, brutalised, locked in a house and used as slave labour before he was arrested and imprisoned at Polmont Young Offenders Institution.
The youngster was forced to work on a hash farm
Like many trafficked children, Dinh was reared in slavery and told by his captors he would die if he escaped.
He said: “They told me if I were to be captured by the police, the police would imprison me in dark rooms and give me very little food. And the room would be very cold and over time I might die from starvation.”
His earliest memory of Vietnam is a vague recollection of hugging a woman, possibly his mother, in his home village before being taken by a man he calls his uncle and trafficked to Europe.
Dinh said: “We arrived at a place where there was snow and white people. Later, I knew it was Europe.”
Like most smuggled children, he didn’t even know which country he was in. They were picked up at the airport and joined a group of other Vietnamese who were being smuggled. They were taken to a different house each day where, despite being only a small child, he was used as a household slave. Sometimes they slept rough in forests and covered great distances, climbing mountains and hiding in lorries.
He said: “Once, when I was walking too slowly because I was too small and weak, someone pointed a gun at me and made me fall off the mountain. I broke my leg and someone took care of my wound. I was taken to a doctor to get treated.”
When his leg healed, his nomadic life resumed and he often saw a number of other children who told him they were being forced to work to pay off the debt to the smugglers.
He said: “I had to do chores such as cooking, carrying buckets of water or finding firewood to keep us warm. I was made by adults to go into shops to steal food or anything that they wanted.”
Dinh was taken by lorry to the UK when he was 10 and imprisoned in a house in London, used by a trafficking ring.
It was seven months before he was allowed outside in an escorted visit to a park. He remembers feeling a mixture of joy and fear that he would be picked up by police.
He felt a combination of joy and fear about being picked up by the police
Being raised in this captivity, Dinh believed it was normal that he should have to work for food and shelter with no access to play or an education. After being abandoned by his uncle, he was smuggled to France to search for him.
Although he was brutal, he was the only “family” Dinh knew.
In his search, he was picked up by a Vietnamese man called Phat who promised to help if he worked as his household servant for a year in the UK. But when there was no sign of his uncle, Dinh escaped and was forced to sleep rough in parks and public toilets, scavenging bins for food. Some Vietnamese gave him the odd night of shelter but he was often forced to sleep in the cold. Then he met a Vietnamese couple who told him that, in exchange for housework, they would help him find his uncle. They gave him to a friend, who again filled his head with the empty promise of help. The man took Dinh to a house in England to grow illegal cannabis he was told was medicinal.
After a few months, he was moved to another cannabis farm in South Lanarkshire.
Dinh said: “During that time, they said I should not go out because the police would arrest me. They said they were valuable medical plants so if other people knew about them, they would try to steal them.”
His masters would call him and give him orders and he slept in the corner of the living room on the floor. His job was to mix plant food to water the plants, trimming off the leaves or installing the electrical wiring. One morning at 7am, the house was raided and a terrified Dinh was arrested and taken to the police station.
He had no idea what crime he had committed.
Dinh said: “I didn’t know they were cannabis plants until I was in prison.”
Although he was a victim and not a criminal, he was sent to Polmont Young Offenders for nine months. This was perhaps the worst period of all.
He said: “I was staying in one cell all the time. I was really irritated all the time and felt like I was going crazy. I didn’t understand anything about the legal system. I felt very angry and sometimes I wondered why I was being kept in prison with criminals and murderers, if I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Fortunately, he was helped by Scottish charity The Aberlour Childcare Trust.
He was given an advocate from their guardianship service, who work with children and young people who arrive in Scotland unaccompanied and separated from their families.
Through the charity, he was recognised as a victim and released.
He said: “I hope to raise awareness that young people like me didn’t do illegal things on purpose. We are not criminals.”
In Scotland, the Lord Advocate has since insisted that children like Dinh should be helped, not placed in jail.
In England, many like him are still imprisoned.
Aberlour have been an enormous support to Dinh and he now attends college and describes himself as happy.
He said: “Only now am I aware of how terrible it was what happened to me at a very young age. Before getting out of prison and having a new life, I thought it was normal. I gradually realised it really was the life of a slave.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/sold-slavery-age-six-vietnamese-9741352 https://archive.is/S0qdd
Nail bar slaves found in biggest trafficking swoop
ONE of the biggest single crackdowns on human traffickers operating in Scotland has seen police identify 11 potential victims – including six children – working in nail bars.
Around 430 police officers raided hundreds of firms including farms, car washes, beauty bars and food production factories as part of a national day of action to coincide with World Anti-Slavery Day.
A teenage boy was discovered working in one nail bar in Edinburgh and an illegal immigrant was also found working in another within the Capital.
Several minors – including a teenage girl – were identified in premises in Livingston and received care from social workers after the operation.
One person has been detained for human trafficking offences and two others arrested for immigration offences by Police Scotland, with an additional 12 arrested by Immigration Enforcement.
Also in Edinburgh a Latvian man was arrested for drugs offences under an International Arrest Warrant. The alleged human traffickers are believed to originate from Iran, Vietnam, Albania, Turkey and Iraq.
Police were supported on the raids by 50 colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration Enforcement, British Transport Police (BTP) and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
Shook Tang, of Migrant Help Scotland said a number of the alleged victims of trafficking, including a Vietnamese man found working in a nail bar had been referred to the charity for assistance with accommodation.
“It is common to see Vietnamese people who have been trafficked to work in cannabis cultivation, but we also see mainly girls brought to work in nail bars,” she said.
“We also see some Chinese people, usually brought for domestic work or other labour exploitation. Some people who have been trafficked end up working as fishermen. Their documents are kept by gangmasters, to control them and prevent them going out. They are also financially controlled as well, paid as little as £1 or £2 an hour and kept locked up. “
Some come into the country thinking they are coming for an apprenticeship but when they get here it is a different story
It is understood those from outside the EU will be given financial help to support themselves while submitting an application for asylum, or helped to return to their home country.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Houston of Police Scotland described human trafficking as a “sickening trade in vulnerable people”.
He said: “It is happening now, in Scotland, to adults and children. Victims are being trafficked into and around the country, usually for the purposes of labour or sexual exploitation. We will ensure Scotland is a hostile environment to this kind of exploitation.”
Police Scotland said it is working closely with health and social care workers to help people who are discovered as a result of anti-slavery and human trafficking work.
Ian Tyldesley, assistant director for Immigration Enforcement in Scotland, said: “Modern slavery is a barbaric crime which destroys the lives of some of the most vulnerable and law enforcement has an essential role to play in eradicating this abuse from our society.”
Matt Forde, national head of service at NSPCC Scotland said trafficked children are often subjected to the “most traumatic physical, sexual and emotional abuse”.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “In relation to charges, we seek to remove anyone caught committing immigration offences. Our inquiries are continuing.”
Officers also moved to raise awareness of trafficking in transport hubs, ports and railway stations in Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Tam Baillie, Children and Young People Commissioner said: “I am pleased to see we are now identifying those responsible for the misery caused by human trafficking. It shows we have improved our awareness and understanding that this exploitation is happening here in Scotland and the arrests send out a signal it will not be tolerated. We need to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to respond to any signs in local areas where there are children and adults who may be victims.” http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14812061.Nail_bar_slaves_found_in_biggest_trafficking_swoop/ https://archive.is/azLF8