Women from Eastern Europe trafficked into UK and sold into forced weddings for £3,000
Police in Manchester uncovered the operation after alarm bells were raised during a Slovakian woman’s routine pregnancy check-up
Human traffickers are being paid £15,000 a time for forcing women to have their bogus husbands’ babies.
Detectives investigating an organised crime group suspected of bringing women into Greater Manchester from Eastern Europe believe the traffickers are selling them for £3,000.
But the price increases to £15,000 if they will agree to have a child with their new ‘husband’.
The shocking price of women emerged as officers arrested eight men and three women during raids in Rochdale, Oldham and Cheetham Hill as part of Operation Retriever, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The operation was led by the Rochdale North neighbourhood police team when they were notified of a pregnant Slovakian woman who had been sold to an Asian family.
The woman, who was unable to speak English, was taken to The Royal Oldham Hospital by another woman who asked doctors to carry out the procedure.
But medical tests revealed that the victim, 20, was more than 25 weeks pregnant – and it would have been illegal to abort the baby.
The hospital alerted social services who made her unborn baby subject to a child protection plan.
After she failed to attend medical appointments the police became involved and an independent interpreter was hired to interview the woman.
She confessed that she had been sold to an Asian family and subject to a forced marriage after entering the country on the belief that she would be meeting her sister in the UK.
The victim was picked up from Luton airport in May by a man, 39, who initially held her in London before moving her to Wesley Street in Failsworth.
She was then moved to Ashfield Road, Rochdale where she was forced to marry a 38-year-old man.
DI Jim Faulkner, who is leading Operation Retriever, said: “It transpired that she never wanted an abortion and the marriage was carried out in a local house that was used as a mosque.
“As part of this investigation we found that the going rate for a standard female was around £3,000.
“The going rate for a pregnant female rose from between £10,000 and £15,000, because it virtually guarantees leave to remain.”
The investigation linked addresses across Greater Manchester with women being brought into the country under false pretences and promises of a new life before being forced into marriage.
The team identified potential suspects who were involved in arranging the trafficking of women and facilitating the marriages.
Warrants were carried out yesterday as part of a multi-agency operation, which included GMP, immigration enforcement officers, The Borders Agency, Home Office and Rochdale Council.
DI Faulkner said: “Modern slavery comes in many forms and this case is just one example of the reasons why vulnerable men and women are trafficked into this country.
“This investigation and subsequent arrests show that GMP and our key partners are committed to destroying modern slavery in Greater Manchester, by way of supporting victims, detecting and bringing offenders to justice or providing training to those who may be exposed to the crime as a third party.”
Two people were also arrested for outstaying their visas.
Officers also shut down a house that was being used as an Islamic learning centre under new legislation as part of the 2014 anti-social behaviour crime and policing act.
Police suspect 400 sham marriages have been held in Rochdale costing the local economy £15m
Officers from Operation Retriever presented their findings to the Home Office as part of a complex investigation into human trafficking and sham marriages.
Police have confirmed 14 sham marriages have taken place in Rochdale in the past 12 months.
But the Home Office investigators believe they have identified around 400 sham marriages in total.
Rochdale North Detective Inspector Jim Faulkner who led Operation Retriever said: “Each sham marriage costs the UK economy £40,000.
“That’s a Rochdale figure of £15m through benefits and cost to public services.
“The national picture is billions.
“The trafficking element is moving someone from A to B whether Nationally or Internationally, but it has to be for the benefit of something.
“It was seen as part of this operation that the benefit was to secure status in this country.”