Two men appear in court over human trafficking

Tuesday 19 August 2014 22.23
The police operation has been running since last Wednesday
The police operation has been running since last Wednesday

Two men have appeared in court, charged with a series of human trafficking and forced labour offences after 20 suspected victims were rescued by police.

Ioan Lacatus, 31, with an address on Hanover Street and Samuil Covaci, 23, with an address on Charles Street both in Portadown face 12 courts of human trafficking, 12 counts of forced labour and one count of acting as an unlicensed gang master.

Mr Lacatus, a father of three young children, faces an additional charge of concealing criminal property.

A solicitor acting for Mr Lacatus said his client had denied all charges made against him during police interviews.

No bail application was made and both men have been remanded in custody. 

They are due to appear at Craigavon Magistrates Court by video-link on Friday week.

A third man, aged 27, is being questioned in relation to the case.

All 20 of the potential victims - 14 men and six women - are from Romania and range in age from 20 to 48.

They were removed from two locations in Co Armagh.

The police operation has been running since last Wednesday but details were only released by the PSNI last night.

The force has liaised with the UK Human Trafficking Centre and a number of agencies to ensure the suspected victims are safe.

Today's court proceedings were delayed by interpreter issues.

Additional translators have been flown to Northern Ireland from England to cope with the number of people involved and the volume of information required to be processed.