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PSNI Organised Crime Branch officers enter an apartment complex in Belfast city centreMore than 130 premises were raided and eight people arrested in a cross-border operation targeting organised prostitution, criminality and money laundering.
Police in Northern Ireland rescued three suspected victims of human trafficking when they search 10 brothels across the region on Tuesday.
Five people were arrested as every county across the north, plus Belfast and Londonderry, were visited during Operation Quest.
At the same time detectives in the Republic searched 114 apartments, flats and houses. One man and two woman were arrested for questioning.
A significant amount of documents, cash, mobile phones and computers were seized in both jurisdictions and are expected to result in several bank accounts being frozen.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: “We are determined to actually do something about this problem. It is not something society should stand for, it is a criminal offence and police do take it seriously.”
He said Tuesday’s events demonstrated the commitment of the PSNI, Garda and other law enforcement agencies across Europe.
Officers in Northern Ireland visited more than 20 addresses and searched several of them.
A PSNI spokesman said they believed 10 of these locations were being used for the purposes of prostitution. The operation resulted in five arrests for a variety of offences and three suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued, police added. It involved 170 police officers across Northern Ireland and had been planned for several weeks.
Detectives received support from women’s help organisations who deal with rescued victims of trafficking and representatives of the Garda were in the Belfast command room. Women were taken to special suites at police stations for dealing with those trapped in the sex trade.