French and Romanian authorities, supported by Europol, have dismantled an organised crime network involved in trafficking minors.
During the joint operation, 4 houses in France and 10 houses in Romania were simultaneously searched by investigators. Eighteen individuals were arrested and authorities seized almost EUR 25 000, gold, jewellery, luxury watches and TV sets.
The network has been the subject of a large-scale international investigation by the French Gendarmerie and the Romanian Police since last year. They were suspected of trafficking underage Romanian nationals into forced criminality, forced begging and related property crimes, e.g. pickpocketing, handling stolen goods and money laundering.
The criminal group was organised on a family and clan kinship basis, carrying out pickpocketing crimes in and around the tourist spots of Paris. This included amusement parks, other busy areas frequented by tourists and high-speed trains.
The underage victims forced into committing pickpocketing and begging produced criminal profits of up to EUR 7000 daily. The total criminal proceeds are estimated at nearly EUR 1 million.
Europol actively supported the operation and provided operational analytical support to the Member States involved throughout the entire investigation. This included facilitating the exchange and analysis of information, organising operational meetings at Europol and in the Member States, and deploying analysts with a mobile office in France to deliver real-time cross-checks of data gathered during the operation.