Europol supported a Europe-wide operation carried out from 14 to 19 May by law enforcement agencies, labour inspectorates, immigration services, tax authorities, trade unions and other partners targeting organised crime groups trafficking vulnerable people for the purpose of labour exploitation.
During the action week, more than 39 000 individuals were stopped and checked, alongside over 12 900 vehicles and inspections were carried out at over 4 640 places of business and other locations. As a result of these checks, 57 suspects were arrested for human trafficking and a further 192 persons were detained or arrested for other offences including illegal immigration. A total of 379 potential victims of trafficking were identified. Data gathered during the operation has led to the launch of 56 new investigations in order to identify further suspects and victims linked to human trafficking cases across the European Union (EU).
Law enforcement authorities and other partner agencies from 28 countries joined forces for this operation which targeted a broad range of commercial sectors such as transportation, agriculture, construction, maritime, food processing, catering and care provision. Requests for cooperation including labour inspections were also facilitated between the participating agencies. In addition to the inspections, campaigns to raise public awareness on the issue of human trafficking took place.
The deployment of Member States delegates to the coordination centre set up at Europol's headquarters during the action week significantly contributed to the success of the actions linked to trafficking in human beings.
The action was planned through the European multidisciplinary platform against criminal threats – Trafficking in human beings (EMPACT THB).
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 March 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for organised and serious international crime for the 2018 - 2021 period. This multiannual Policy Cycle aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU in a coherent and methodological manner. 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. Trafficking in human beings is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle. It aims to disrupt organised crime groups in the EU for all forms of exploitation, including sexual and labour exploitation as well as all forms of child trafficking.