Spanish & Romanian Police break up criminal gang behind prostitution network

10 February 2015
Press Release
Press Release/News

This News/Press release is about Trafficking in Human Beings

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Spanish and Romanian law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled a Romanian organised criminal group that were actively trafficking young Romanian women into forced prostitution.

A day of action by Romanian National Police in the Ploiesti region on 9 February 2015 resulted in 17 house searches, the arrest of five suspects and the seizure of a significant amount of cash, credit cards and a luxury car. Five victims of human trafficking were identified and rescued by Romanian authorities. Spanish authorities and a Europol expert provided assistance to Romanian authorities on the spot.

This was preceded by an extensive human trafficking field operation by Spanish National Police on 23-24 January 2015, which resulted in four simultaneous house searches and the arrest of 10 suspects in the Alicante region. During the operation, 14 victims were safeguarded. A large quantity of cash, mobile phones, laptops and other significant evidence were seized. Romanian authorities took part in this field operation, directly supporting Spanish authorities on the spot, together with two Europol experts.

The criminal group under investigation since July 2013 was involved in trafficking young women from Romania to Spain, who were then sexually exploited in the sex clubs of Alicante and Madrid. Surveillance, including telephone tapping, led to the identification of additional members and associates of the criminal group. Furthermore, 20 victims of trafficking were identified. The victims were controlled by members of the group who regularly demanded information on the number of customers serviced and the amount of money earned from prostitution. Money generated from sexual exploitation was used to purchase vehicles that were subsequently sold. The investigation into money laundering resulted in the closure of commercial premises, blocking of bank accounts and seizing of the proceeds of crime.
Europol and Eurojust supported the countries involved in this cross-border human trafficking operation throughout the investigation and facilitated police and judicial cooperation in the framework of a joint investigation team (JIT) made up of authorities from Spain and Romania. Prior to the action day, coordination meetings were held at Eurojust.

Europol experts provided operational analysis to assist the investigation, as well as support for the field operation through the deployment of mobile offices to Spain and Romania.