Eight people were arrested across Ireland and the UK today as part of an international police operation targeting human trafficking for the sex trade.
Nine brothels were raided in the Ireland in the investigation into the smuggling of women from Brazil, Nigeria and Namibia to be used as prostitutes.
Six people – four women and two men – were detained by Irish police while a 47-year-old Irish man and a 31-year-old South African woman were taken into custody by police in Wales.
Several raids also took place in the North as part of the cross-channel swoop, sparked by a UK inquiry into human trafficking codenamed Operation Pentameter 2.
Bob Lauder, regional director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), said the arrests sent out a stark warning to criminals involved in the sex trade.
“We will find you and we will stop you,” he said.
Brothels were raided in Cavan, Drogheda, Athlone, Mullingar, Sligo, Kilkenny, Enniscorthy, Newbridge, and Waterford.
Another six locations were searched in Carlow, where six people were arrested on suspicion of organising and managing prostitution.
The four women range in age from the mid-20s to early 50s, while one of the men was in his early 20s and the other in his early 30s.
They are being questioned at Garda stations in Carlow, Kildare, Naas, Kilkenny and Tullamore under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
The man and woman arrested by Soca officers in Pembrokeshire in Wales are being detained on suspicion of human trafficking for sexual exploitation and control of prostitution.
A number of items were taken away for forensic examination, while separate searches were also carried out by the PSNI in Newry.
Mr Lauder said people traffickers working across international borders could no longer consider themselves unassailable as police forces come together to tighten the net.
“Joint working with the PSNI, An Garda Síochána, Dyfed Powys Police and UK Border Agency have resulted in these arrests,” he said.
“I want to thank all our partners who were intrinsic to the success of this operation.”