Four members of an alleged child sex trafficking gang were arrested by police in the early hours of this morning, officers have said.
The men, all aged between 23 and 25, were arrested by officers from the Met Police’s Trafficking and Prostitution Unit in connection with sexually exploiting teenage girls in east London.
Acting on intelligence from Essex Police, officers began searches at 12 address in Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Newham.
“The victims we have identified so far were all young and vulnerable individuals. Their abusers targeted them for this reason,” said Det Insp Kevin Hyland, of the Trafficking and Prostitution Unit.
He added: “We are working with Essex Social Services and other service providers to ensure that all victims we identify during our investigation receive the care and support that they need.
“We are absolutely committed to stopping those involved in the sexual exploitation of children. Our priority is always the safety and wellbeing of the victim. I urge any other victims of this type of crime to report it to police so that they can receive the help they need.”
It is believed that the girls were being trafficked within the UK. Officers said a 25-year-old man from Barking was arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation; controlling a child prostitute; facilitating or attempting to facilitate child prostitution, and rape.
A second 25-year-old, from Newham in east London, was arrested on suspicion of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation and controlling a child prostitute.
A 23-year-old man from Romford in north-east London was arrested on suspicion of rape and another 23 year old man, from nearby Leyton, was arrested on suspicion of sexual touching of a female; controlling a child prostitute; conspiracy to traffick a female within the UK for sexual exploitation.
Police believe they have caught the whole gang and the four men are currently in custody at an East London police station.
All of the victims were aged between 16 and 18 years at the time of the offences.