Belfast Telegraph

Two Ballymena men arrested over human trafficking and controlling prostitution

Picture posed by a model of a sex worker (Yui Mok/PA)
Picture posed by a model of a sex worker (Yui Mok/PA)

Two men have been arrested by detectives investigating human trafficking and controlling prostitution following searches in Ballymena and Belfast.

The men, both from the Ballymena area, were arrested by detectives from the PSNI's Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit on Tuesday.

A 33-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of three counts of human trafficking for sexual exploitation; controlling prostitution for gain; converting criminal property and a number of motoring offences.

An 18-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of money laundering and controlling prostitution.

Both men remain in custody at this time.

These arrests follow the arrest of five men last week on suspicion of paying for sexual services. A file on these five arrests is being prepared for onward transmission to the Public Prosecution Services.

While the sale of sex in itself is not a crime in Northern Ireland, it is a criminal offence to purchase sex.

Detective Inspector Mark Bell said: “These arrests are part of a proactive investigation into human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland.

“Sexual exploitation is often an unseen crime - often victims are transported to clients’ properties so there may not be the obvious case of men coming and going to the one property.

"Furthermore, many victims can be afraid to speak out or may be being held captive. However, for some people who are subject to this kind of exploitation, they may not think of themselves as victims.

"They may be vulnerable and have been manipulated into having sex for money, often controlled and coerced into passing over some of the profits to another person who ultimately lines their pockets as a result of the exploitation."

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