Belfast Telegraph

Extradition bid after slave found

Police are trying to extradite suspected human traffickers from India after a woman was discovered in Belfast being held as a domestic slave.

The victim, who is also from India and in her 20s, was freed by chance after neighbours in the affluent south of the city found her locked out of a house wearing hardly any clothes in the middle of the night.

The Indian family who lived in the property where the woman was being held have since fled back to their home country.

Details of the case were revealed by Assistant Chief Constable Drew Harris as the Organised Crime Task Force announced that 23 victims of human trafficking were rescued in Northern Ireland last year.

The majority, 18, were being forced to work in the sex trade but the others were compelled into manual labour or domestic servitude.

Mr Harris warned there could be other slaves being held in secret in Northern Ireland, noting that the Indian woman was only rescued by chance.

"That was only uncovered because she was locked out of the house in the cold weather and had no protective clothing and neighbours reported this as being suspicious," he said. "It was an Indian family and this person was being treated as, in effect, an indentured servant with no pay, her passport held and all of that."

Two years on from the incident, the victim is recovering from her ordeal and has been provided education and job opportunities by authorities in Northern Ireland. Mr Harris said his officers were still actively pursuing the suspects.

The task force, which incorporates representatives from all the main law enforcement agencies in the region, focuses specifically on the fight against organised crime gangs.

As well as the human trafficking rescues, other accomplishments over the past 12 months include seizing more than £9 million of illegal drugs, dismantling 15 large scale fuel laundering plants and recovering £4.4 million worth of criminal assets.

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