Detectives investigating modern slavery and human trafficking have today carried out early morning raids across east Kent.
The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate executed simultaneous warrants at four locations linked to a suspected organised crime network with ties to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
Raid took place in Folkestone, Dover and Lydd. In December 2016, similar raids were carried out in Canterbury, Hersden and Chartham.
The latest raids have identified 12 people as potential victims of modern slavery.
Det Insp James Derham said: “Human trafficking and modern slavery are two of the fastest-growing international crimes and a large source of income for the people responsible, who care little for the misery they inflict on victims lured to the UK on the promise of a better life.
“Instead they are forced to carry out backbreaking or degrading work for little or no pay while living in substandard conditions and being mistreated and abused on a daily basis.
“This has no place in a civilised society. We are keen to do everything we can to prevent them from happening and protect those who are most at risk.”
A 47-year-old man and a 25-year-old man were arrested at the same property in Dover on suspicion of arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation.
Both remain in custody while enquiries continue.
The 4am raids were carried out with the help of The Salvation Army
Anne Read, director of anti-trafficking and modern slavery at the charity, said: “All victims have been offered safe delivery into protective care and specialist support through a government contract operated by The Salvation Army.
“This provides vital help and support to adult victims of this pitiless exploitation.”
If you suspect human trafficking or modern slavery you can report it to Kent Police or call 101.