DETECTIVES from the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch believe they have smashed a work slave racket.
Officers rescued 20 potential victims of human trafficking during the “fast moving operation”.
They have also arrested three men as part of an operation into labour exploitation which has been running for several days.
The 20 Romanian victims were rescued at various stages since last Wednesday at two locations in county Armagh.
The 14 men and 6 women range in age from 20 to 48. Police have liaised with the UK Human Trafficking Centre and a number of agencies to ensure the victims are safe.
Additional translators have been flown to Northern Ireland from England to cope with the number of victims involved and the volume of information which needs to be processed.
The three suspects, aged 23, 27 and 31 have been arrested in counties Armagh and Antrim during the course of the investigation.
They are being questioned at the Serious Crime Suite at Antrim police station on suspicion of human trafficking, forced labour and slavery and money laundering.
Two properties have been searched and three vehicles seized.
Detectives from Organised Crime Branch have also been liaising with the Gangmaster Licensing Authority as part of their investigations which are linked to food production.
Detective Chief Inspector Todd Clements from Organised Crime Branch said: “This has been a fast-moving and complex operation which may continue for some time.
“The 20 people we have identified as potential victims of human trafficking for labour exploitation are in places of safety now.
“Our inquiries are continuing,” added DI Clements.u