On 19 November, the United Kingdom’s South Yorkshire Police and the Romanian National Police (Poliția Română), supported by Europol and Eurojust, dismantled an organised crime group involved in human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
On the action day, law enforcement officers from Romania and the UK carried out 11 house searched (5 in Romania and 6 in the UK). The operation led to the arrests of nine suspected members of the organised crime group in the UK and the detention of three individuals in Romania. Police further identified eight potential victims of human trafficking, all women aged between 18 and 30 years old.
The criminal group, which had been active since 2017, recruited its victims from economically vulnerable regions in Romania. The victims were promised considerable material gains. The most frequent recruitment method was the “loverboy” method – a way to ensure the emotional dependence of the young women on the members of the criminal group. Many members of the group were actually in a relationship with the sexually exploited victims.
Europol provided operational and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange from the beginning of the investigation. On the action day, Europol deployed an expert to cross-check real-time operational information against Europol’s databases and to facilitate the coordination of the operational activities through the Europol’s Virtual Command Post application.