A husband and wife have been arrested at their Huddersfield home as part of a massive operation to track down those wanted in connection with modern slavery, human trafficking and human smuggling.
The weeklong operation launched by the National Crime Agency and the National Extradition Unit led to the capture of six fugitives across the UK.
The first operation took place on Monday July 5, when officers arrested Ionuţ Pătru, a 31-year-old Romanian national from Brastavăţu in Romania, at an address in Merridale Road, Wolverhampton.
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Pătru was wanted by the Romanian authorities to serve a five-year prison sentence for trafficking a 13-year-old girl for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
The next day, husband and wife Cătălin and Mihaela Didilă, aged 44 and 41, were both arrested at the address where they lived in Spaines Road, Fartown, Huddersfield.
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Both are wanted in Romania where they are believed to be involved in an organized criminal group involved in trafficking in women and money laundering.
In one case, they are suspected of having tricked a 17-year-old girl into coming to the UK, where she was ultimately forced into prostitution.
On Wednesday July 7, officers arrested British national Muzafar Sabir Sabah, 36, at his address in Pawel Road, Coventry.
Sabah is wanted by Hungarian authorities for his role in a plot to smuggle two groups of migrants across the Hungarian-Austrian border in 2016, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison in absentia.
On the same day, a separate warrant was executed on Calvert Lane in Hull to arrest Lithuanian national Tomas Žemrieta, 37.
He fled his detention in Lithuania in 2019 after being jailed for four years for being part of an organized crime group that recruited people in Lithuania and sent them to the UK for the purposes of labor exploitation.
On Friday July 9, Vihren Boychev Ignatov, a 54-year-old Bulgarian national, was arrested at his home in Craven Street, Lincoln.
He is wanted by Romanian authorities, who say they attempted to smuggle six migrants across the border into Bulgaria in the back of a van in September 2020.
All those detained have now appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court and are subject to extradition proceedings.
NCA UK Bureau of International Crime Director Kathryn Clarke said: “This operation saw the NCA working closely with Interpol and police colleagues from the National Extradition Unit to identify, trace and arrest six people wanted for serious crimes abroad, living here. UK.
“They thought they were out of reach, but they got it wrong, and as a result of these arrests the British public is safer.
“But there is an important message to send here and that is that the UK is not a safe haven for fugitives abroad or those involved in transnational organized crime.
“We are committed to ensuring that wanted criminals spend their lives looking over their shoulders, knowing that we are actively seeking to arrest and bring them to justice. “
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