The North’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) yesterday said there are strong cross-border links between mafia-style gangs, networks of traffickers of both drugs and human beings.

SOCA director Bob Lauder, in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, said: "Organised criminals will seek to exploit any opportunity to enable their criminal business. This has been the case with the Irish land border and the Irish Sea between Ireland and Britain for some time.

"As the political landscape in Northern Ireland has changed, allowing the relaxation of controls in the interests of the rights of citizens of the North and South of Ireland, organised criminals have taken advantage for their own purposes."

One of the crimes that is causing most concern, especially in recent months, is the trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation..