Three men have been arrested in raids targeting the suspected trafficking of women from Eastern Europe for sex work.
Northumbria Police raided four properties in Newcastle earlier as part of an investigation into modern day slavery.
Four “vulnerable” women were taken into police protection, a spokesman said.
The three men were arrested on suspicion of modern day slavery and trafficking offences are being held in police custody.
Northumbria Police believe the women, most of whom are from Romania, were being brought to the UK and kept in cramped houses while being forced into sex work.
The four women found will “receive health checks and be offered tailored support by police and key partners in the city”, the spokesman said.
Det Insp Graeme Barr said: “Slavery is happening on our doorstep and we need everyone to be vigilant so that we can do everything we can to bring those organised crime groups to justice.
“These individuals prey on vulnerable people trapped in poverty in their home country and promise them a better life in the UK with the prospect of employment.
“But the reality is that life is not waiting here for them and the life they are forced to live is nothing like what they were promised, instead confined to poor conditions with no control over their own actions.”
Source: (BBC News)