Belfast Telegraph

Two alleged gang leaders face court over trafficking charges

By Chris Kilpatrick

Two alleged gang leaders accused of running a human trafficking operation have been detained in custody charged with more than 50 offences.

The men, both Romanian, were remanded into custody when they appeared before Lisburn Magistrates' Court yesterday.

They face a string of charges in connection with the discovery of 20 Romanian nationals in Co Armagh. The group – 14 men and six women aged between 20 and 48 – were found at two different properties.

Three men were subsequently arrested, with two appearing in court.

Ioan Lacatus (31), whose address was given as Hanover Street, Portadown, Co Armagh, and Samuil Covaci (23), from Charles Street, also in Portadown, are each accused of 12 counts of people trafficking as well as 12 forced labour charges. They also face charges of acting as an unlicensed gang master.

Lacatus, a father-of-three young children, faces a further charge of concealing criminal property.

The alleged offences are said to have taken place between May 31, 2014 and August 15, 2014.

Both deny all of the charges against them.

They stood in the dock together, flanked by security staff, as the charges were put to them through a translator.

The police officer in charge of the investigation said he could connect both men to the charges against them.

Neither defendant applied for bail and both were remanded into custody to appear by videolink before a court in Craigavon later this month.

A 27-year-old man remained in police custody last night.

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