PSNI seek extradition of suspected human traffickers
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.
"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," he said.
The report also revealed that more than £4m of criminal assets have been recovered from the dangerous crime gangs targeting Northern Ireland.
Drugs worth £9m have been seized, 23 victims of human trafficking rescued and 15 large-scale fuel laundering plants dismantled over the past 12 months as the law enforcement agencies step up their efforts to shut down organised crime gangs.
Justice Minister David Ford said the information within the Organised Crime Taskforce's annual report and threat assessment launched yesterday demonstrates "major blows to the activities and profits of organised criminal gangs operating across Northern Ireland".
"There is no such thing as a victimless crime and I urge the public to help law enforcement in the fight against organised crime," he said.