Major NCA operation targets crime groups involved in the sexual exploitation of women
16 May 2019 03:42 PM
Man appears in court accused of sourcing properties for use as brothels and cannabis factories
National Crime Agency officers have led a major operation aiming to disrupt organised crime groups suspected of involvement of the trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
The operation began when NCA investigators arrested 43-year-old Feng Xu at his home address in Holliday Street, Birmingham on Tuesday 14 May.
Xu is alleged to have used multiple false identities to source hundreds of different properties for a number of criminal networks engaged in the exploitation of trafficked women across the UK, as well as other properties used for cannabis farming.
Following Xu’s arrest co-ordinated action took place to target a number of properties allegedly connected to him. Addresses in Birmingham, Uxbridge, Bristol, Northamptonshire, Manchester, Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Shropshire were among those visited by the NCA, police and Immigration Enforcement.
The searches led to documents and computers being recovered for analysis, and approximately £87,000 in cash being seized.
Five Chinese nationals were arrested for immigration offences and now face removal from the UK. They were handed over to Immigration Enforcement.
At one location in Ludlow, Shropshire, West Mercia Police uncovered what is believed to be a cannabis farm. One man was arrested.
Xu was charged with 12 offences under the Identity Documents Act, Fraud Act, Misuse of Drugs Act and Proceeds of Crime Act.
Yesterday, Thursday 16 May, he appeared at Birmingham Magistrates where he was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on 14 June at Birmingham Crown Court.
National Crime Agency branch commander Matt Rivers said:
“We believe this co-ordinated action will have caused significant disruption to a number of different criminal networks involved in the exploitation of women.
“Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is one of our highest priorities, but it is a threat that is evolving.
“We are determined to work with our law enforcement partners to pursue offenders, safeguard victims and to prevent vulnerable people from becoming victims.
“But we still need the public to help, be our eyes and ears and alert us to activity in their communities that may be concerning them.
“If you have suspicions about activity that may be linked to exploitation please call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700, or the police on 101.”