Thirteen people have been arrested following simultaneous morning raids in the West Midlands as part of an investigation into the exploitation of eastern European workers.
Nine men and four women – all Polish nationals aged between 18 and 60 – were arrested on suspicion of slavery offences following the raids at four properties in Handsworth. Officers also stopped a minibus carrying suspected slavery victims in Westgate, Aldridge.
West Midlands Police latched the operation based on intelligence that people were being brought into the UK and made to work for low pay as 'gangmasters' received a cut of their wage.
Three men and two women from Poland were also rescued and taken into to a reception centre where they will be given an opportunity to speak about their circumstances.
West Midlands Police sergeant Phil Poole, from the force's modern slavery investigation team, said: "These raids were carried out as a result of intelligence and illustrates our intent to stop cruel individuals making cash off the misery of others.
"There is no place for the exploitation of people and we will not hesitate in taking firm and decisive action to stop this."
Today's operation saw the force work alongside a variety of partner agencies including the Red Cross and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) senior investigating Officer Andy Davies said: "This was a well-planned and hugely successful operation and we were proud to assist West Midlands Police with the preparatory work, the arrests and in supporting the alleged victims.
"Early indications suggest that a legitimate employment agency may have been infiltrated by an organised criminal gang.
"I would urge all labour providers – with or without GLAA Licences – to remain vigilant about their supply chains and recruitment practices so they too do not get caught out."