As a result of coordinated and joint operational activities, authorities from Slovakia and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for the purposes of sham marriages and sexual exploitation.
Last week, house searches were performed in Glasgow by Police Scotland. Europol specialists were deployed on the spot to support the national authorities. As a result, five suspects were arrested and detained in police custody. Sixteen women - potential victims of trafficking - were also identified and were offered care and assistance by a specialised NGO.
A significant amount of evidence (numerous travel documents, computer equipment, mobile phones and cash) was seized during the operation, and will be used for further investigation.
This joint action was preceded by extensive and complex investigations supported by Europol and Eurojust.
Two days ago, the second phase of this coordinated operation took place in Trebisov, Slovakia, where four search warrants and four arrests were executed.
The modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socio-economic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad, and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.
Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational and analytical support to Slovakia and the United Kingdom throughout the investigation. Europol specialists in trafficking human beings delivered real-time cross-checks of the data gathered using a mobile office and data extraction device during the actions.
Europol and Eurojust facilitated police and judicial cooperation under a joint investigation team (JIT), bringing together efforts from both Member States. Several operational and coordination meetings were held at Europol and Eurojust’s headquarters in The Hague.