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Eleven arrested in police operation across Canterbury and Margate

Eleven people have been arrested in a police crackdown on human trafficking, fraud and money laundering.

The arrests - including two men and two women from Canterbury - were made during a series of dawn raids across east Kent on Wednesday.

They follow a two-year investigation by the force's Serious Crime Directorate into an alleged organised criminal network.

Police targeted 12 houses in Canterbury and Margate, carrying out searches and seizing a large haul of cash and documents, including passports and identity papers.

A further 19 people - believed to be victims of human trafficking - were taken to a centre in Canterbury, where they were offered help from social services, the UK Border Agency and the UK Human Trafficking Centre.

Translators in Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Russian were on hand to help the victims.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrea Bishop said: "This is the culmination of a detailed and complex two-year investigation by officers from our Serious Economic Crime Unit into an organised criminal network operating in Kent, who are involved in a number of criminal enterprises including human trafficking, fraud and money laundering.

"These criminals prey on and exploit migrant workers, effectively running a modern day slavery operation."

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Pughsley added: "We are sending out a clear message that we will not tolerate criminals operating in our communities.

"We are listening and responding to what local residents are telling us concerns them the most, and are tackling criminality at all levels, from organised criminal networks like the one involved in this operation, to those involved in burglary and other theft-related crime, those who handle stolen goods, and those who use, deal and supply drugs which can often fuel all other types of offending."

Two men, aged 29 and 30, and two women, aged 29 and 31, all from Canterbury, have been bailed pending further investigation.

Six men from Thanet and a man from Surrey have also been bailed.

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