On 8 March Europol supported German law enforcement authorities in dismantling a Chinese organised crime group involved in the trafficking in human beings (THB). Based in Germany, this criminal gang is suspected of trafficking Chinese nationals into the EU for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
During the coordinated action day, 10 locations - brothels, private houses and business premises - were searched, 4 potential victims of trafficking were safeguarded, and 1 suspect arrested for the time being in this phase of the operation. Significant amounts of cash and gold, worth EUR 37 000, were seized, alongside mobile phones and money transfer documents.
The parallel financial investigation conducted by German authorities identified EUR 330 000 in criminal profits which will be seized at a later date.
The suspects allegedly recruited Chinese women in their home country by luring them with the promise of well-paid jobs in the EU. The victims were subsequently trafficked to Germany where they were then sexually exploited in various locations, from brothels to massage parlours and private apartments.
The victims were subjected to adverse conditions, such as imposed debt bondage, withholding of the IDs or other restrictions of movement, language and cultural barriers and physical or sexual abuse.
Chinese criminal groups use specific modi operandi based on solid cross-border activities and support from accomplices in already-existing local Chinese communities active in other EU Member States.
Investigations so far have shown the highly networked nature of this organised crime group, which encompassed recruiters, exploiters, facilitators, money launderers and individuals involved in forging travel documents and visas.
Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational analytical support throughout the investigation. This included facilitating information exchange and analysis and delivering real-time cross-checks of all data gathered in the course of the field action through the deployment of a mobile office and two Europol analysts in Germany.