Portadown pair remanded in custody over human trafficking charges

Ioan Lacatus arrives  at Lisburn Court
Ioan Lacatus arrives at Lisburn Court

Two men have been remanded in custody charged with 50 human trafficking and forced labour charges.

Ioan Lacatus, 31, whose address was given as Hanover Street, Portadown, Co Armagh, and Samuil Covaci, 23, from Charles Street also in Portadown, appeared at Lisburn Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning.

The pair were arrested as part of a major police operation which recovered 20 potential victims from two locations in Co Armagh.

Both men faced 12 counts of human trafficking, 12 counts of forced labour and one count of acting as an unlicensed gang master.

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

The potential victims, 14 men and six women, like the defendants from Romania, ranged in age from 20 to 48.

A detective constable told the court he believed he could connect both men to the charges and revealed that the investigation was still ongoing.

No bail applications were made for either defendant.

District Judge Peter King remanded them in custody and ordered that they re-appear via video link later this month.

Acting for Lacatus, defence solicitor Paul McCann said his client had denied all charges against him during police interviews.

“In making those denials he gave police several lines of inquiry which we will say point away from his culpability,” said Mr McCann.