Three intense days of action by French Gendarmerie, working with Europol, have resulted in the dismantling of an organised criminal group that were actively trafficking young women into forced prostitution. As a result, 15 suspects were arrested in the French region of Nantes et Lorient.
From 25-27 November 2014, French Gendarmerie ran an extensive human trafficking field operation in the north-western part of the country which resulted in the execution of seven house searches, simultaneously performed in different locations. Significant amounts of cash, mobile phones and other electronic devices were seized. This was the result of a large-scale investigation, led by police in Angers, to tackle an organised crime group intensely involved in both the sexual exploitation of young women and in property crime, mainly shoplifting.
The case started in February 2014 following the detection of a significant number of young women involved in prostitution in different French cities. Subsequent deeper investigations unveiled the real nature of the ‘business’, where the young women were being forced to work in the sex industry. The victims’ sexual services were advertised on the Internet. These victims of trafficking were forced to work in the sex industry for many hours a day whilst most of the earnings derived from the illegal business were collected by the criminal group. The organised crime group behind the trafficking process was made up of both EU and non-EU nationals.
Europol supported this cross-border human trafficking operation, providing operational on-the-spot support to France, delivering real-time cross-checks of all data gathered in the course of the field operation through the deployment of the Europol mobile office and analysts in France.