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'LOVERBOY' Romanian women lured to UK as men's 'girlfriends' only to be forced into sexual slavery

MET Police officers in partnership with Europol, Eurojust, and Romanian Police have rescued six victims of modern slavery.

In the early hours of Friday, 4 August the Metropolitan Police Modern Slavery Unit together with the Directorate for the Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) in Romania simultaneously executed 12 warrants in Romania and three in north London.

Five people have been detained for questioning in Romania for Human Trafficking offences. More than 133 Met and DIICOT officers have been jointly deployed in Romania and London.

A 24-year-old man was also arrested in London for being wanted on a UK court warrant. He has taken to a north London police station.

Six victims have been rescued in north London and are now being supported by specialist officers and the charity Justice and Care.

The organised crime network is believed to have been recruiting females in Romania using the 'loverboy' tactic. Male recruiters act as a boyfriend to potential victims before trafficking them to London. The woman are then forced into prostitution and controlled by the traffickers.

The joint investigation team was formed between the Met and the Romanian Law Enforcement Authorities and is supported by Europol and Eurojust. The raids this morning were the culmination of work between the Joint Investigation Team which started with the objectives of bringing down the organised criminal network.

The warrants in the UK took place around Colindale and around the city of Iasi in North Eastern Romania.

As part of the warrants large quantities of cash, and high value watches and vehicles as well as firearms were seized in Romania.

Detective Inspector Melanie Lillywhite from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime’s Modern Slavery Unit said: “The action today and the substantial amount of work which has led up to today has significantly disrupted this organised criminal network. Members of this OCN are suspected of recruiting and grooming women in Romania before trafficking them to the UK where they are forced into prostitution.

"Unfortunately, this type of exploitation is still happening across London and the UK. The Met’s modern slavery team works around the clock to identify people involved in human trafficking and forced labour, and we play a role in protecting and supporting hundreds of victims each year.”

Julie Currie, Victim Navigator Programme Coordinator for Justice and Care, said: “Justice and Care are proud to work with and support this joint operation between the Metropolitan Police and the Romanian Police, assisting and ensuring that any potential victims are safeguarded and supported during what can be a difficult time for them.”

Detective Inspector Lillywhite added: “We need help from the public as they have an important role to play in recognising and reporting modern slavery. If you suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, report it. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.

“Often those affected do not see themselves as potential victims of sexual exploitation and many will have been coerced into this life to make money for an organised crime network. Victims are often told the police and authorities in the UK are not to be trusted and with limited English are unable to seek help, even if they want to.

“We believe there are victims of modern slavery in every borough across London and the public may encounter them every day, possibly without realising. As well as being sexually exploited, victims have been found working in construction, domestic servitude, agriculture, cannabis factories and in places you use yourself, such as car washes, barbers and nail bars.”

If you suspect that you, or someone you have come into contact with, may be a victim of modern slavery or trafficking and require support, please call The Salvation Army’s 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0800 808 3733. This is the best way to get support to anyone you suspect might be a victim.

You can also report a suspicion or seek advice through the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can also report to the police online at or by calling 101, in case of an emergency dial 999. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at


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