Fourteen people have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and modern slavery offences in south London.
Officers targeted five nail bars in Southwark in a five-month multi-agency investigation launched after concerns were raised that “vulnerable” people were working in the venues.
Twenty-four people (19 adults and five children) were found inside the addresses and are now being supported by specially trained officers. They were escorted to a nearby reception centre where they received medical treatment and support, the Metropolitan Police said.
The operation was led by officers from Central Specialist Crime.
A total of 13 men and women were arrested for modern slavery and human trafficking offences while one other person was detained on suspicion of immigration offences.
Police say they have all been taken to south London police stations where they remain in custody.
The operation involved more than 150 individuals, including 100 officers from across the Met Police, immigration services, Southwark Council, social services, the NHS, and a range of charities dedicated to supporting victims.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Rogers, from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime, said: “Human trafficking, modern slavery and sexual exploitation often occur in plain sight, and it is often the case those carrying out these offences exploit those from less fortunate backgrounds who have travelled to our county for a better life.
“They prey on the knowledge these individuals will carry out hard, labour-intensive work to provide for themselves.”
Councillor Victoria Mills from Southwark Council said: “We have supported the Met with this operation. Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of the women, children and other vulnerable adults, caught up in this despicable trade.”
Reporting by Press Association.