Europol supported a Europe-wide operation carried out by law enforcement agencies, labour inspectorates, immigration services, tax authorities and other partners targeting organised crime groups trafficking vulnerable people for the purpose of labour exploitation. Between 13 – 20 May, two crime areas - trafficking in human beings and facilitated illegal immigration - were targeted with actions carried out to safeguard victims and identify those responsible for their trafficking and exploitation.
During the span of the action week, more than 22 193 individuals were controlled, alongside 6 056 vehicles and checks took place at over 2 900 places of business and other locations. As a result of these checks, 133 suspects were detained or arrested for offences including trafficking in human beings and illegal immigration. 221 potential victims of trafficking were identified. Data gathered during the operation has led to the launch of 44 new investigations in order to identify further suspects and victims linked to human trafficking cases across the EU.
Law enforcement authorities and other partner agencies from 26 countries joined forces for this operation which targeted a broad range of commercial sectors such as transportation, agriculture, construction, maritime, food processing and catering. 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 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.