Two arrested after five men rescued from human trafficking

Five men believed to be victims of a human trafficking network have been rescued, while a man and woman linked to a car wash business have been arrested.

The five men are thought to have been trafficked into the UK from Slovakia and forced to work with little or no access to the money they earned, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA) which led the operation.

The man and woman, both aged 41, who are connected to a car wash business in Bristol, were arrested in the Brentry area of the city on Tuesday morning.

They are believed to be part of a wider organised crime group and are also being investigated over associated money laundering and fraud offences.

NCA officers, supported by Avon and Somerset Police, arrested the pair while the five potential victims, all Slovak males, were taken to safety.

The men all volunteered to enter into the National Referral Mechanism, a government scheme to support trafficking victims.

They were escorted to a reception centre provided by Bristol City Council and spoken to by the NCA's vulnerable persons team.

NCA branch commander Ian Glover said: "Criminal networks involved in modern slavery and human trafficking operate by lying to innocent people about the promise of a better life.

"Very often, victims end up being controlled; they are treated as commodities and exploited into forced labour or servitude.

"The NCA targets those involved in trafficking, working robustly with partners to protect the vulnerable and tackle criminals responsible for their trafficking and exploitation."

Pete Anderson, Bristol City Council's Safer Bristol Manager said: "Modern slavery and human trafficking have no place in our society but regrettably they exist, resulting in the exploitation of innocent people.

"We do not tolerate this criminal behaviour and work with partners in the Avon and Somerset Anti-Slavery Partnership to pre-empt and disrupt activity as well as providing support and advice to victims.

"We will not stop in our efforts to reduce this abhorrent crime."

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