Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the rescue of 16 foreign nationals, who may be victims of trafficking, from premises in Co Armagh.
Initial investigations by the PSNI indicate that the men and women may have been subjected to forced labour.
David Ford said: "Forced labour is a form of modern day slavery and there is no place for it in any society. I welcome the operation to assist these men and women who may have been cruelly exploited for the financial gain of others. They are now being given extensive support while the circumstances are investigated.
“I also welcome the unrelated police action, which has led to another five potential victims of human trafficking being identified in Belfast.
“I know that the vast majority of employers are legitimate, but those who seek to use victims of trafficking can expect to feel the full weight of the law. These successful operations by the police and other agencies send a clear message to those who choose to exploit people. That message is that this appalling crime is not acceptable in any form and law enforcement agencies will pursue perpetrators. Furthermore, the Assembly has shown how seriously it views the offence by providing for a maximum sentence of life for any conviction.
"This type of cruelty has no place in our community. Anyone with information or concerns about possible trafficking should pass it to the police on the 101 number or to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.
"Employers and members of the public have an important role to play in making themselves aware of the signs of forced labour and human trafficking generally and reporting any suspicions to the authorities. Please take a few minutes to potentially change the life of victims."
Notes to editors:
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