On 12 November 2019, the Lithuanian Police (Lietuvos Policija) and the Spanish National Police (Policía National) supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled a large organised crime group involved in human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
The operation led to:
- two leaders of the criminal network arrested in Spain;
- 13 suspected members arrested in Lithuania;
- 50 searches in both in Lithuania and Spain;
- 118 victims originating from Belarus, Ukraine and other countries identified
- seizures of large amounts of cash, drugs, counterfeit documents and fake banknotes, credit cards and SIM cards, weapons and ammunition, masks, and a car with police lights.
The criminal group, operating in both Lithuania and Spain, was particularly violent. The arrested individuals were previously known by the authorities for crimes such as robbery, trafficking of human beings and sexual exploitation. The individuals have been detained and are awaiting trial. Their assets have been temporarily frozen.
Europol supported the investigation by providing coordination and analytical support since the early stages of the joint investigation in 2018. Europol supported the action day by providing on-the-spot technical and analytical support in Lithuania and Spain, and by activating the virtual command post to speed up operational information exchange. Europol also deployed experts to Lithuania to cross-check operational information in real-time against Europol’s databases.
Eurojust strengthened the coordination and cooperation between the Lithuanian and Spanish national judicial authorities and coordinated and facilitated the execution of European Investigation Orders and European Arrest Warrants.
In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Human trafficking is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.