Police Probe Stockton Trafficking
10 January 2018, 15:14
Men aged from their teens to their late 40s have been arrested following a major operation to tackle human trafficking, police said.
Raids carried out on Tuesday in Stockton-on-Tees at seven addresses and one in Sheffield led officers to arrest 10 men in what was said to be an ongoing investigation.
Around 150 officers were involved in the raids which were sparked by a young woman telling police she had been trafficked from the North East, taken to different addresses and subjected to serious sexual offences, including rape.
Cleveland Police said 10 men aged between 18 and 47 have been arrested on suspicion of different offences, which include rape, conspiracy to commit human trafficking, drugs offences and blackmail.
They have all been released "under investigation", Cleveland Police said.
The force said some people may not recognise they have been a victim of this kind of exploitation.
Police and crime commissioner Barry Coppinger said: "Tackling human trafficking and sexual exploitation is not just about police officers, we must all come together as a community if we are to make a real difference.
"I would urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual exploitation to contact police or reach out to Cleveland sexual assault referral centre."