A police raid on five nail bars in Southwark found 24 people believed to be victims of human trafficking and led to the arrest of 14 people.
The raid on nail bars in Peckham High Street, Camberwell Road, Rye Lane, and two on Walworth Road discovered 19 adults and five children who were taken to a nearby reception centre where they received medical treatment and support.
The five month investigation was launched after concerns about vulnerable individuals being employed in the nail bars.
A total of 13 people were arrested for modern slavery and human trafficking offences, one individual was arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.
They have all been taken to south London police stations where they remain in custody.
Detective chief inspector Mark Rogers, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime, said: “I am pleased with the results of this multi-agency operation which was launched to safeguard vulnerable individuals, identify perpetrators of crime and ultimately protect the public.
“Human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation often occur in plain sight, and it is often the case those carrying out these offences exploit those from less fortunate backgrounds who have travelled to our county for a better life. They prey on the knowledge these individuals will carry out hard, labour-intensive work to provide for themselves.
“The Met is entirely committed to tackling these crimes and protect the most vulnerable of people in our communities. We will continue to work closely with our partners as we have on this particular operation, to target those involved in this criminality and prevent them from exploiting innocent individuals any further.
“I hope this operation continues to raise the public’s awareness of these shocking crime types, and sends a clear message to those involved that we will work with all agencies and law enforcement to identify and bring them to justice.”
Councillor Victoria Mills from Southwark Council said: “We have supported the Met with this operation. Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the women, children and other vulnerable adults, caught up in this despicable trade.
“Our officers are working with the police, specialist Vietnamese charities, the Salvation Army, social care and other support staff, to help those who wish to access support.”
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