Northamptonshire Police  13
Northamptonshire Police say these 13 missing Vietnamese teenagers, all aged between 14 and 18, have vanished between June and September this year. Northamptonshire Police

Police have launched an urgent appeal to find 13 missing Vietnamese teenagers who entered the UK illegally and may have disappeared into the hands of slave gangs.

The three girls and ten boys, all aged between 14 and 18, came into the country illegally between June and September this year on lorries, officers believe.

They were taken into custody then separated into the care system at addresses in Corby and Northampton, in Northamptonshire.

But they have also disappeared from their addresses and Northamptonshire Police have launched Operation Fresco to publicise the descriptions and pictures of the teenagers and ask for help in finding them.

Vietnamese people traffickers have been known to operate extensively throughout the UK using slave labour in nail bars and in cannabis farms.

The Independent reported that in 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK.

The year before, 150 Vietnamese youngsters went missing from their care and foster homes, the Mail Online reported.

In the first six months of 2017 there were 169 referrals of minors from Vietnam into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK's framework for identifying victims of trafficking.

This figure makes Vietnam the top country for children being trafficked into the UK and comes in a year when seven Vietnamese people went missing from Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

Now detectives will work alongside social services, accommodation providers and other forces in a co-ordinated and covert approach, targeting specific communities.

Det Insp Andy Rogers, of Northamptonshire Police, said: "One after the other they disappeared from their locations where they had been housed by Northamptonshire County Council.

"I don't believe they're all together - they left at different times [although] we do have a belief that the girls left together.

"Northamptonshire Police have completed a huge amount of work trying to locate these children, and so we're making this appeal for the public to assist us."

Witnesses or anyone who may have any information about this incident can call police on 101 and or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.