14 arrested after police crackdown on human trafficking

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A major police operation targeting human traffickers has now led to a total 14 arrests, officers have confirmed.

Cleveland Police said it is continuing to investigate reports of human trafficking after a series of raids carried out in Teesside and Sheffield on Tuesday January 9.

Officers say they have now made four additional arrests, bringing the total to 14.

Two additional addresses have also been searched, one in Stockton and one in Middlesbrough, bringing the total to 10.

The recent arrests, all from the Cleveland Police area, are:

· 22-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and rape.

· 34-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape, conspiracy to commit human trafficking, rape and sexual assault.

· 33-year-old man, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape, conspiracy to commit human trafficking, rape and sexual assault.

· 34-year-old man arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to rape and conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

All four have been released under investigation.

Detective Inspector Chris Stone, leading the investigation, said: “Progress continues to be made with the support of our communities to target those who seek to exploit vulnerable people. Arrests continue to be made, properties searched and evidence gathered.”

Police are asking that anyone with information which might assist this investigation, perhaps by recognising that they too have been the victims of such abuse, contact Cleveland Police on 101. Victims can also contact local charities and support groups, such as the Teesside Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). Contact details for which are on the SARC website at www.sarcteesside.co.uk