With a rapid intervention supported by Eurojust, the EU’s judicial arm, 10 suspects of human trafficking have been arrested and five others placed under judicial control by the Romanian authorities.
Two female victims were brought to safety, one of whom was under immediate threat from the criminal network, requiring swift coordination and action within four working days. Three places were searched in Austria and the United Kingdom, and weapons, such as guns and machetes, jewellery, luxury clothes, cash and IT equipment have been seized.
The criminal group allegedly forced its victims into prostitution, using the so-called ‘loverboy’ approach, where young men tempt women from deprived backgrounds to work for them. It is also alleged that the suspects subjected the victims to physical aggression and rewarded them using stolen golden jewellery.
Eurojust facilitated the execution of European Investigation Orders (EIOs) to the UK and Austria and assisted with the coordination of the operation, enabling the house searches. The EIOs were issued by specialised prosecutors within the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure (DIICOT) in Romania.
The operation was successfully concluded with participation in the United Kingdom of the West Yorkshire Police’s Programme Precision Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Team, supported by the National Crime Agency, the United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA) and the charity Hope for Justice. In Austria, the Public Prosecutors Office and the Regional Criminal Police Office of Vienna participated.