Europol Helps Break Up Two Smuggling and Trafficking Gangs

Europol recently assisted European authorities in dismantling two organized crime groups, one smuggling migrants to the UK and the other trafficking Romanian women to France and forcing them into prostitution.

Human Trafficking Victim (Sammisreachers/Pixabay)Human Trafficking Victim (Sammisreachers/Pixabay)In a Monday press release the European police force announced that it had busted a criminal network that had smuggled 308 migrants - primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian Territories - into the UK.

The network consisted primarily of Romanian truck drivers and group leaders, who promised “guaranteed transit” to the migrants in exchange for a fee ranging from around US$12,000 to $16,000.

Using trucks from Romanian companies, the network smuggled the migrants from Romania to transit bases in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands before sending them to the UK.

Overall the group was reaping profits of approximately $3.8 million. When authorities searched 18 Romanian houses as part of the operation they seized weapons and more than $537,000 in cash.

The bust also saw French and Romanian police arrest 11 and identify 59 alleged members of the group. 

Another Europol press release published the same day stated that Europol had also helped break up an organized crime group that was trafficking young Romanian women into France and forcing them into prostitution. 

“The criminal gang aimed at gaining total control over the prostitution industry in the regions of Nantes and Rennes in Western France,” the press release stated.

During the bust French and Romanian authorities arrested 13 of the traffickers - including their purported leader - and saved 13 of the young women.

Members of the group recruited the girls through emotional manipulation, promises of a better future, or financial coercion. They also often utilized violent methods against the girls and their families in order to ensure their cooperation. 

The criminal network earned $1.3 million from 2017 to 2019 as a result of their activities.