Four individuals have been arrested and 15 potential victims safeguarded in a joint operation conducted by the UK’s Police Scotland together with Latvian authorities and with Europol’s support. The successful investigation resulted in the breakup of a Latvian organised crime group involved in trafficking human beings (THB) for the purpose of labour exploitation in the United Kingdom.
During the action day coordinated by the West Lothian Criminal Investigation Department and supported by West Lothian Council, the National Crime Agency and Greater Manchester Police, nine houses were searched in four different cities in the United Kingdom. The four arrestees were charged with trafficking human beings, involvement in serious and organised crime, as well as a sex offence.
The potential THB victims are of Latvian nationality and are currently being offered care and assistance at a reception centre.
The joint operation is the result of parallel investigations into the serious and organised crime ring, conducted independently by the United Kingdom and Latvia, followed by strong international cooperation between the two countries in collaboration with Europol.
During the course of the investigation, Europol provided operational and analytical support to the British and Latvian law enforcement authorities and facilitated information exchange between the investigation teams. In addition, an operational meeting was hosted by the agency at its headquarters in The Hague.