Spanish Guardia Civil and the Romanian Police have joined forces, supported by Europol and Eurojust, to dismantle an organised group involved in trafficking women for sexual exploitation in Madrid.
The investigation began last September when the Spanish Guardia Civil received a report from a Romanian woman. She had been recruited months ago in her country of origin using the Loverboy method, by a man who purported to be her boyfriend and promised her a better life in Spain. Once in Madrid, she was forced into prostitution. Investigations revealed the existence of an organised group and identified other victims.
Police officers carried out five house searches in Madrid and eight in Romania. As a result, a large amount of documents, cash and 12 high-end vehicles were seized. In total, nine Romanian women were safeguarded. Operation Balaur resulted in the arrest of seven individuals in Spain, including the ring leader, and four in Romania.
Europol supported the investigation by facilitating information exchange and providing analytical support. On the action day, two Europol analysts were deployed to Spain for on-the-spot support including real-time data exchange and cross checks against Europol databases.
Europol and Eurojust facilitated police and judicial cooperation in the framework of a Joint Investigation Team, which brought together authorities from Spain and Romania.