An international human trafficking probe has been launched after a 19-year-old Hungarian woman was allegedly held captive and trafficked across Europe to Chorley.
Police officers visited a terraced house in the Market Street area of Chorley after being alerted by a phone call.
The alleged victim, who doesn’t speak English, reportedly told officers she had been kidnapped in Budapest after being tricked into accepting a “job offer.”
She claimed she was held in Slovakia for a week before being driven across Germany and France and into the UK.
It is claimed she was held in South Manchester before being “sold” for thousands of pounds to two Asian men.
They allegedly took her to a house in Chorley where officers believed the motive would have been to force her to marry.
She was there two days before police swooped in September 2013 followed by raids in Greater Manchester.
Immigration officers are treating it as a trafficking and forced marriage case.
The complainant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been repatriated and has been reunited with her family in Hungary.
Det Sgt Mark Jacobs, of the Home Office’s North West immigration crime team (ICT) said: “We are aware of an ongoing scam where Asian men attempt to secure EU residency by marrying EU nationals.
“Other suspects are actively being sought. The ICT and partner agencies are making significant inroads into this level of organised crime.”
Numerous arrests were made, including further ones in Chorley. Three people - a Slovakian middle aged couple with grown up children and a Pakistani man in the UK on a student visa, have been charged and appeared before Preston magistrates.
Bartolomej Sivak, 57, of Abbey Hey Lane, Gorton, Manchester, is accused of unlawful imprisonment, intentionally facilitating arrival in the UK intending exploit, and facilitating a false marriage to allow a non EU citizen to breach immigration laws.
His wife Maria Sivakova, 55, faces the same charges, while Yousaf Rama, 26, of Dudley Road, Ilford, Essex, is accused of imprisonment and conspiring to facilitate a false marriage.
A trial is anticipated at Preston Crown Court on January 22.