Dozens arrested in pan-European action against human trafficking

Law enforcement authorities from 16 European member states as well as Iceland and Switzerland arrested a total of 70 persons for human trafficking or other offenses, the agency for law enforcement cooperation Europol announced on Friday.

Europol, headquartered in The Hague, participated in a pan-European operation against the trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, forced begging and labor exploitation. In total, 34 arrests were made for human trafficking and 36 for offences such as robbery, dissemination of child sexual exploitation material and facilitation of illegal immigration.

The operation took place on June 17-23, 2019. Over 127,000 individuals, 63,800 vehicles and 1,100 locations were checked and law enforcement authorities searched private properties, commercial establishments, hotels, buses and train stations, ferry ports, airports and border crossings. A total of 206 potential victims were identified, 53 of whom were confirmed to be minors, according to Europol.

The activities led to the opening of 31 new cases of human trafficking across the different participating countries. Europol could not tell more about the number of activities or arrests per country. “That is up to the local authorities to announce,” said a Europol spokesperson.

The Netherlands was one of the countries involved, but Dutch police could not give more information on their role in the operation. “We are busy getting more information as well,” a police spokesperson said.

The other participating EU countries were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Britain, which led the operation.