Northumbria Police and several UK newspapers have reported an arrested of six people after a number of dawn raids as part of an investigation into Modern Day Slavery in Newcastle – with potential victims believed to have been collecting charity bags. An investigation was launched last year after Northumbria Police received intelligence about a suspected Lithuanian organised crime group understood to be operating in the city.
Enquiries led officers to believe that a factory had been set up in the North Shields and men were being trafficked from Eastern Europe to work across the region. Police believe those carrying out the work would be housed in shared accommodation and their wages and benefits would be controlled by their employers. It is suspected that the men worked as charity bag collectors through a third party and that they would travel across Newcastle to collect donations of clothes.
Eastern European gangs are known to collect donated clothing before legitimate charities or set up fake charities to steal the garments.
HMRC is also running a separate investigation to establish whether any of the proceeds from the illegal business are going to the charities in question. Here is a link to the News item posted on the Northumbria Police website.