Warrants executed to clamp down on the little-known problem of human trafficking across the county have seen two arrests made in Dacorum.
In total, nine people have been arrested as part of the series of raids carried out by Herts Police under the nationwide anti-trafficking campaign Operation Eagle.
Officers say they hope the intelligence gathered will give an indication of the extent of the problem of human trafficking – defined as the exploitation of a human being by another for gain – in Herts as well as across the UK.
A 37-year-old man from North London was arrested on suspicion of money laundering after a warrant was carried out at a car wash in Galley Hill, Hemel Hempstead, on Thursday. An address in Edgware was then searched, and the man was released on police bail until November 21.
A nail bar and flat in Tring’s Western Road were also raided last Tuesday, October 15, as part of the operation, leading to the arrest of a 32-year-old woman from the town who has now been bailed until November 26.
Det Insp Steve Keating of the Herts economic crime unit said: “Human trafficking is a vile crime that results in humans being exploited for the benefit of others.
“Operation Eagle is being launched to raise awareness of human trafficking and the type of activity that could be related to organised criminal gangs.
“These gangs are often connected to premises which are used as brothels, car washes and cannabis factories where exploited people are forced or coerced to work in degrading, appalling and illegal conditions.”
Warrants were also executed at addresses in Aylesbury, St Albans, Hatfield and Watford, where further suspected crooks were arrested on charges of managing brothels and money laundering.
Police and crime commissioner David Lloyd said the work of Herts Police in Operation Eagle will help ensure the whole of the UK is kept safe from this kind of crime.
He added: “There is nothing more despicable than those criminals who target, abuse and exploit vulnerable people. I want to ensure that Herts Police plays its part in tackling criminality that crosses force boundaries.
“Criminality does not respect borders and Herts will contribute to ensuring that the whole of the country is kept safe from organised criminals.”
The force urges people to be on the alert for suspicious activity and report it by calling the non- emergency number 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, call 999.