Police have rescued 10 potential victims of modern slavery after a raid at a car wash in Manchester.
The crackdown was part of a joint investigation with police in the Czech Republic and saw three men arrested.
Officers stormed the Drive and Shine Carwash on Stockport Road in Levenshulme. The suspects, aged 20, 31 and 37 were detained at addresses across South Manchester on Wednesday.
The special Greater Manchester Police taskforce said the potential victims are now being supported by specially-trained officers and are helping police with their enquiries.
Detective Inspector John Robb said: “Following a difficult and thorough investigation, we have been in a position to execute warrants and arrest three men on suspicion of modern slavery offences.
“It marks a significant step for us in our attempts to free those who find themselves victims of modern day slavery and bring those who profit from the lives of other people to justice.
“We have been working with colleagues in the Czech Republic on this investigation and continue to pursue a number of lines of inquiry to ensure that we find every victim and stop every perpetrator.”
Modern slavery involves the movement or recruitment of individuals using threats, deceptions or other means for the purpose of exploitation and is an issue in countries across the world.
According to experts, there is no typical victim of slavery – they can be men, women and children of all ages, but incidents are normally more prevalent among the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups.
Victims found in the UK come from many different countries including Poland, Hungary, Romania, Vietnam and the UK itself.
Police say members of the public often turn a blind eye to suspicious activity, either through fear or ignorance, and that victims are often forced to live in squalid conditions.
Detective Inspector Kevin O’Regan, from GMP’s specialist Programme Challenger team, told HuffPost UK: “Greater Manchester Police is working hard to tackle the issue of modern slavery with our partners.
“We have a dedicated team working relentlessly to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, and provide vital support and care for victims after they have been identified.”
DI O’Regan said the force also has 50 dedicated modern slavery tactical advisers who provide advice, support and expertise on modern slavery to police officers.
Anyone with concerns can call the dedicated Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.