RAID: NCA officers raid the home of Feng Xu in Birmingham on Tuesday (NCA)
A STRING of properties across the country have been raided as part of a major investigation into brothels and cannabis farms where scores of suspected illegal immigrants are suspected to have been trafficked.
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers led a major operation that began in Birmingham, aiming to disrupt organised crime groups suspected of involvement of the trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation in brothels.
The operation began when NCA investigators arrested 43-year-old Feng Xu at his home address in Holliday Street, Birmingham on Tuesday.
Xu is alleged to have used multiple false identities to source hundreds of different properties for a number of criminal networks engaged in the exploitation of trafficked women across the UK, as well as other properties used for cannabis farming.
An NCA spokesman said: "Following Xu’s arrest co-ordinated action took place to target a number of properties allegedly connected to him.
"Addresses in Birmingham, Uxbridge, Bristol, Northamptonshire, Manchester, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Shropshire were among those visited by the NCA, police and Immigration Enforcement.
Five Chinese nationals were arrested for immigration offences and now face removal from the UK.
They were handed over to Immigration Enforcement.
At one location in Ludlow, Shropshire, West Mercia Police uncovered what is believed to be a cannabis farm.
One man was arrested.
Xu was charged with 12 offences under the Identity Documents Act, Fraud Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Proceeds of Crime Act.
Today, he appeared at Birmingham Magistrates where he was remanded in custody until his next court appearance at Birmingham Crown Court next month.
Matt Rivers, NCA branch commander, said: “We believe this co-ordinated action will have caused significant disruption to a number of different criminal networks involved in the exploitation of women.
“Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is one of our highest priorities, but it is a threat that is evolving.
“We are determined to work with our law enforcement partners to pursue offenders, safeguard victims and to prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims."