Cardiff man arrested in international slavery operation

By Emily Murray

A Cardiff man has been arrested as part of an undercover operation into modern slavery

A 43-year-old-man has been arrested in Cardiff after an alleged international operation into modern-day slavery.

The arrest took place in the Llanishen area following a seven-month operation set out by the South Wales Police via Europol and the Czech Police Organised Crime Unit working as part of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

Detective Inspector Tudor Thomas, of South Wales Police, said that this joint operation is the first of its kind in South Wales.

The covert investigation worked jointly with partner agencies in the UK such as Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), National Crime Agency and Bawso who conducted parallel investigations looking into benefit and tax fraud offending within the UK.

The man has been released on police bail while further investigations take place.

Thomas commented on the arrest saying: “The joint working protocols between the Welsh and Czech investigations have enabled simultaneous activity in both countries to be able to focus on the entire criminal network involved in trafficking vulnerable people for the purposes of labour exploitation.

“The exploitation of vulnerable people within Wales will be given the highest priority by South Wales Police, our partners and todays arrests demonstrate the International commitment to tackle modern slavery and protect people from harm.”

Stephen Champman, the Welsh Government anti-slavery co-ordinator, said: ‘Slavery is a global problem.

“Our aim is to make Welsh hostile to slavery and to provide the best possible support to survivors.”

This is not however the first time Wales has been at the centre of of such an operation, with Gwent Police’s ‘Operation Imperial’ launched in 2013 being the largest investigation into forced labour in the UK to date.

The operation began in search for missing man, Darrell Simester, who was subsequently found to be held against his will working on a farm outside Newport.

Mr Simester’s captor, David Dornan, aged 43, was subsequently charged with four-and-a-half years imprisonment under the Modern Slavery Act.

The mass media attention granted to Mr. Dornan’s trial led to another man, Michael Hughes aged 46, coming forward to tell detectives of how he had been held against wills for 25 years.

Four men: Patrick Joseph Connors, 59; son Patrick Dean Connors, 39; and nephew William Connors, 34, were consequently found guilty of making Mr. Hughes perform forced labour in 2013, and were charged with a combined total of 27-years imprisonment.

Chief Superintendent Paul Griffiths at the time spoke of the violence that the two men had received by their enslavers, saying that the defendants “had complete control over the two victims and both were broken men.”

Upon the conclusion of the operation, Ch. Supt. Griffiths noted that forced labour was “prevalent across the UK”, and that their findings would be passed on to help other investigations across the UK.