Hand car washes in Milton Keynes and Bedford have been raided by police investigating people trafficking and modern slavery, and the supplying of class A drugs.
Thames Valley Police Serious and Organised Crime Unit and officers from the Milton Keynes carried out a number of warrants to tackle a potential people trafficking network on Tuesday February 13.
Police said an investigation has found that an organised crime group has been operating within Milton Keynes and was responsible for large quantities of class A drugs being brought in from London and then being dealt on the streets of Milton Keynes.
This group was using hand car washes as a front for their criminal activity and police believe individuals may be being trafficked into Milton Keynes, and might be the subject of modern slavery.
Warrants were carried out at four hand car washes in Milton Keynes, and one in Bedford.
Thirty people who are believed to be victims of modern slavery are being supported by partner agencies and charities.
Officers also carried out a number of warrants at 20 residential addresses.
They seized a large quantity of cocaine, cannabis and also thousands of pounds worth of cash, and a Mercedes ML 250.
Thirteen people were arrested on suspicion of offences such as modern slavery and people trafficking, conspiracy to supply class A drugs, and immigration offences.
Detective chief inspector Nicole Murphy, of Milton Keynes Local Policing Area, said: “Today we have carried out a number of warrants to disrupt an organised crime group that has been operating in Milton Keynes.
“We have made a number of arrests and have safeguarded a number of individuals who we believe may have been subjected to modern slavery offences, and tackle a people smuggling network.
“To offer support to vulnerable individuals who may have been trafficked, or those who need help with drugs addiction, we have been working with Milton Keynes Council, HM Immigration, The Samaritans, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, the Gang Master Licensing Authority and HMRC.
“Additionally we have disrupted this organised crime group, to stop them from bringing drugs into Milton Keynes, and protect our community from the damaging health and social effects of drug abuse.
“This organised crime group has used hand car washes in Milton Keynes to act as a front to mask their criminal activity.
“By continued working with the community and our partners we hope to stop these groups from establishing roots within our communities in this way.
“In order to tackle serious and organised crime we need the public’s help and support. We would ask anyone who thinks someone is being exploited to please report it.
“If you have information which could assist us in tackling serious and organised crime please call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”
Detective chief inspector Darran Hill, of Thames Valley Police’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said: “This is the largest operation of its type carried out within the Thames Valley, and we have worked with a number of partners who have been key in the success of this operation in order to safeguard vulnerable individuals.
“As well as working with partner agencies and charities, we have also worked closely with the National Crime Agency, and the Belgium Federal Police.
“This is a perfect example of our campaign Stronghold which aims to work in partnership in order to tackle serious and organised crime.”
“We would urge communities to assist us in spotting the signs of modern slavery, so if you are going to a hand car wash, we would ask members of the public to be vigilant. Are working conditions what they should be? Does the car wash have a phone number?
“By reporting simple things like this you could be assisting us in stopping serious and organised crime.”