The biggest child sex grooming gang ever seen in the UK is thought to have been busted after police arrested 45 men.
It is claimed four girls – some as young as 13 – were abused by the alleged paedophiles over a number of years and officers said they could swoop on even more suspects.
The girls were first said to be groomed by one man, making them believe they had a relationship.
Police believe he would then have sex with the victim in front of his friends, before passing her around for them to abuse her.
Some of the white and Asian men were directly linked to each other, while others were described as being “opportunistic” happening to be at a house when one of the girls was being abused and deciding to join in.
Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Brennan, Head of the West Yorkshire Homicide and Major Inquiry team, said: “These are serious allegations, which is why we have made a significant number of arrests to try and confirm or negate any criminality. Our investigation is ongoing and we are still trying to identify if there are further suspects.
“This is a unique investigation. Although 45 people have been arrested they are not all directly linked. There has been a series of incidents over several years and we will investigate each and every one of them. Some of the incidents involved a couple of people, while others involve more.”
Most of the suspects are in their 20s, while a handful are middle aged men, aged up to their 60s. The year-long probe, spanning three towns in West Yorkshire, has been manned by a team of 30 detectives and resulted in the largest number of arrests for any single child sex gang in the country so far.
The investigation – which has seen hundreds of hours of interviews carried out – is expected to carry on until the end of the year.
All the allegations are said to be “historic”, having taken place at least two years ago.
The men have been bailed, with strict restrictions, and the alleged victims have been moved from the area.
It is just the latest grooming case in the UK after it was revealed in June police across the country were investigating at least 54 child sex gangs.
Paedophile networks have also been smashed in high-profile investigations in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and Rotherham, South Yorkshire