SIX men and a woman have appeared before Blackburn Magistrates charged with charged in connection with human trafficking and inciting prostitution.

The seven were arrested after police raids in four counties following investigation of widespread exploitation of Romanian women who have been forced into prostitution.

Maria Badulescu, 33, of Harcourt Street, Luton, Andrei Alin Carabet, 27, of Manchester Road, Preston, Catalin Eugen Mihalescu, 43, of Wadeson Road, Manchester, Mihai Nicolescu, 33, of Freehold Street, Northampton, Valentin Tinica Poiana, 40, of Manchester Road, Preston, Florin Rusescu, 44, of Harcourt Street, Luton, and Ionel Sandu, 32, of Carlton Road, Blackburn, are all charged with arranging or facilitating the travel of a person with a view to her being exploited and causing prostitution for gain.

Rusescu and Poiana are also charged with possessing a taser electrical incapacitation device.

All seven were sent in custody to Preston Crown Court where they will appear on January 4.