(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
LONDON - Police arrested nine men in northern England suspected of trafficking and raping young women following raids on Tuesday on several homes in a crackdown involving more than 150 officers.
The arrests were made in the town of Stockton and city of Sheffield as part of a major ongoing investigation into the sex abuse, exploitation and trafficking of women across Britain, according to Cleveland police force, based in northeast England.
The raids were carried out after officers received intelligence that at least 10 women were trafficked both within the region and across the country, and raped by multiple men in various addresses over a period of several months, police said.
The number of officers involved - more than 150 - was 'exceptionally high' for an anti-trafficking operation, Will Green, a police spokesman, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Police forces across the country are ramping up efforts to investigate cases of trafficking and modern slavery, with more than 500 live policing operations into the crimes ongoing, say the National Crime Agency (NCA) - dubbed Britain's FBI.
"Our message is clear, to those who are victims of this vile abuse; there is hope," said Jason Harwin, Cleveland police assistant chief constable.
"We are on your side; we can and will help you."