Europol supported an EU-wide operation carried out by labour inspectorates and law enforcement authorities targeting organised crime groups trafficking vulnerable people for the purpose of labour exploitation. During the operational activities taking place between 28 May and 5 June, two crime areas - trafficking in human beings and facilitated illegal migration - were targeted with actions carried out in dozens of key geographical hotspots (airports, border crossing points, etc.) where the likelihood of identifying potential victims of trafficking as well as human traffickers and smugglers was higher.
During the span of the action week, 6 709 individuals were controlled, alongside 4 156 vehicles and 2 271 companies. As a result of these checks, 47 suspects were arrested for labour exploitation and 275 victims identified and safeguarded. Data gathered during the operation has led to the launch of 23 new investigations in order to identify further suspects and victims linked to human trafficking cases across the EU.
Law enforcement authorities, immigration services and labour services from 21 countries joined forces for this operation. This was the first time that labour inspectors across the EU cooperated so closely with law enforcement authorities in a coordinated way to identify, safeguard and protect victims of labour exploitation.
The operational activities targeted different sectors such as transportation, agriculture, construction, textile, food and catering industry as well as commercial activities. The competent authorities looked not only into key industries where victims are being exploited or are at great risk, but also into recruitment websites that may be being used to advertise jobs that result in victims being exploited and into suspect businesses operating across the borders. Moreover, controls took place at border crossing points in countries of origin, transit and destination.
The exchange of labour inspectors between countries of origin and destination and the deployment of Member States delegates to the coordination centre set up at Europol's headquarters during the action week have significantly contributed to the success of the actions linked to trafficking in human beings.