On 20 May 2014, Austrian law enforcement authorities, with the support of Europol, carried out an operation against human trafficking in the Austrian state of Carinthia.
As well as focusing on illegal prostitution, police in different locations carried out simultaneous checks on legal brothels to identify victims of trafficking in human beings (THB) for sexual exploitation and to also identify the key figures and criminal networks involved. As a result of the action, 360 prostitutes, mainly from Eastern Europe, and 40 associated individuals were checked, 11 potential victims of Human Trafficking have been identified and 10 persons have been reported because of illegal prostitution.
This was the first result from a long-running investigation into an organised crime group involved in trafficking young women for sexual exploitation from Eastern Europe and the Western Balkans into Western European countries.
The investigation was launched in 2013 when the activities of the criminal group were detected across different European countries. Cooperation between Austrian authorities and the other countries involved (Austria, Germany, Romania and Switzerland) ensured good progress in the investigation, including the identification of the suspects and a number of victims that were being sexually exploited in brothels.
Approximately 80% of the prostitutes in Carinthia are of Romanian origin, and the action was also therefore supported by a Romanian liaison police officer in Austria.
Europol's support in this human trafficking operation involved facilitating information exchange throughout the investigation. In addition Europol experts in The Hague provided operational analytical support to Austria during the day of action, through real time cross-checks of all data gathered.