Two men have been charged with people trafficking after allegedly attempting to smuggle a woman through Luton Airport.
They were arrested as a result of intelligence checks and patrols carried out by Bedfordshire Police’s Airport Unit and the UK Border Force.
Bulgarians Vladimir Lyubenov, 33, of no fixed abode, and Emil Mitov, 40, from Margate, Kent, were each charged with arranging the travel of a Bulgarian woman with a view to exploiting her – an offence under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Det Supt David Cestaro said: “Human trafficking and modern slavery are highly profitable crimes and victims are often exploited in public view. As this joint operation demonstrates, we are working hard with partners to protect vulnerable people who are at risk of being exploited .
“If you have any information about human trafficking or slavery you can contact the police in confidence by calling 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
“You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 for help, advice and to report suspicions. The helpline is free, confidential and open 24/7.”
Paul Lillywhite of the National Crime Agency said: “Together with police forces and government partners, we are conducting targeted operations to safeguard victims and pursue criminals who exploit human beings for profit with no regard for their rights, wellbeing or safety.
“This activity also helps us to build a clear picture of the threat from human trafficking and slavery, which takes place throughout the country and affects some of society’s most vulnerable people.”
As part of an ongoing operation at the airport, anyone identified as being potential victims are supported by a safeguarding team staffed by the agencies, with further investigative work carried out to ascertain whether they may have been trafficked.