Three suspected victims of human trafficking rescued by gardaí in North Cork
Gardaí believe men were held against their will and sent to work at farms and factories
Three Eastern European men suspected of being victims of human trafficking have been rescued by gardaí in North Cork. File photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins
Three Eastern European men suspected of being victims of human trafficking have been rescued by gardaí in North Cork.
Gardaí believe the men were being held against their will by a criminal gang which was sending them out to work on farms and factories.
Gardaí raided two houses, one in the Charleville area and one in the Churchtown area, early on Sunday morning as part of an investigation into human trafficking. The officers were from Charleville and Mallow backed by up members of the Armed Support Unit and the Garda Dog Unit.
Gardaí had been contacted by Welsh police after a young Eastern European woman went into a police station there late on Saturday night to say that her brother was being held against his will by a group of her countrymen at a location in North Cork.
Gardaí quickly put together a search party and some 25 officers raided the two houses simultaneously where, with the aid of an interpreter, they established that three men, all aged in their mid-20s, were being held against their will.
The Eastern European gang had confiscated the men’s passports and had put them working as labourers on local farms or as general operatives in local factories while being provided with bed and board in a number of rented houses, gardaí believe.
Gardaí also established that the men would be accompanied to the local bank by gang members who would force them to withdraw money. They would then confiscate the money and gardaí believe that the men had been threatened by gang members and were in fear for their lives.
Investigators are trying to establish how long the three men have been in Ireland. They believe the men may have been trafficked into the country in vans by gang members who regularly travel between their home in Eastern Europe and Ireland via Cherbourg to Rosslare ferries.
The three men have been taken to a safe place and interviewed by gardaí who also seized a large quantity of documentation, a small quantity of cocaine and a firearm in the search of the two premises.
The Garda Press Office said in a statement that no arrests have been made to date but that the investigation is ongoing . It is understood that gardaí are liaising through Interpol with police Eastern European country to establish if any of the gang member have convictions there.