Six 'trafficking victims' rescued
Six suspected victims of human trafficking have been rescued.
Three men and a woman have been arrested in Belfast as part of the planned Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) operation against organised crime and the vice trade.
All the women rescued by detectives are from eastern Europe and were allegedly being forced into prostitution. They are being cared for at a specialist police facility in Belfast where they will be offered services provided by the UK Human Trafficking Centre.
Two of them, both aged in their 20s, were rescued from an apartment block in the King Street area and a property in College Park North.
Police said the other four women had been rescued over the past number of weeks as part of a three-month PSNI investigation. Details of those rescues have only now been made public.
Of the four suspects detained, two men - aged 29 and 22 - were arrested in the King Street apartments while a 24-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman were taken into custody on Cavendish Street, off the Falls Road in west Belfast.
The four suspects have been taken to police stations in Belfast for questioning. Police said three of them are eastern European; the fourth is from Northern Ireland.
The PSNI officer leading the investigation, Detective Inspector Douglas Grant, said the suspected criminal operation stretched well beyond Northern Ireland.
"We have been investigating a trafficking and prostitution ring stretching across Europe for the past three months," he said.
"Police have an ongoing commitment to rescue victims of human trafficking, who in this case we believe were being used for the vice trade. And we have an equally strong commitment to dismantle the organised crime gangs involved."