The Hague, the Netherlands
A week of intensive law enforcement action in Finland, supported by Europol, has resulted in a more reliable and up-to-date picture of human trafficking and organised cross-border crime activities in Finland.
Between 4 and 10 November 2013, Finnish Police ran this extensive anti-trafficking operation throughout the country. The action was part of a pro-active campaign to detect and prevent possible criminal activities associated with trafficking in human beings and other associated crimes, with a special focus on minors. In addition, a more reliable and up-to-date picture was obtained of foreign nationals moving into and around Finland, especially those originating from South-East Europe with the purpose of committing property crimes potentially linked to human trafficking.
All Finnish police departments were deployed in the field across Finland, with the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) coordinating the operation through a response centre at the Criminal Intelligence Division in Helsinki. To better coordinate and support operational activities at an international level, the NBI liaised directly with national authorities in Romania and Bulgaria, who were assessed as potentially the most affected countries. Europol facilitated the exchange of operational information between involved Member States.
The week of control activities resulted in gathering new information on existing groups and their connections to organised criminals, who are also involved in the exploitation of minors to commit crimes. This has been assessed by the Finnish authorities as a new criminal phenomenon in the country. The police activities performed in the field also contributed to build a better intelligence picture on human trafficking linked to forced begging.
One investigation into human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation was opened by the Finnish Police in one particular district. It is also likely that based on the collected intelligence, further human trafficking investigations linked to forced begging will be commenced in the near future.
Europol also supported Finnish Authorities by deploying its mobile office to Helsinki to provide on-the-spot assistance through real-time cross-checks and intelligence analysis of a significant quantity of data gathered from the operation. Prior to the action week, Europol was engaged in establishing relevant international links, connected to the planned operational activities, which resulted in Europol detecting hits related to people (including minors) linked to other cases of human trafficking and property crimes across the European Union.
Furthermore, approximately 20 irregular migrants from different nationalities, including Russian and Turkish, were identified during the week, and intelligence collected suggested the possible involvement of a criminal group facilitating the illegal immigration of non-EU nationals to Finland.