Romania, UK, Belgium & Switzerland – coordinated takedown of a Romanian THB criminal network
On 19 June, Romanian prosecutors from the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), Piteşti Territorial Service, together with judicial police officers from the organised crime fighting structures within Piteşti, Craiova, Ploiesti, Bucharest, Vâlcea and Dâmboviţa, carried out 71 house searches in Romania.
In parallel, on the same day, 20 house searches were conducted within the UK, Belgium and Switzerland.
As a result of these joint operations, 30 suspects were detained in Romania and three suspects in the UK, and large amounts of currency, jewellery, firearms, drugs and electronic equipment were seized. Forty witnesses have been interrogated in the involved countries.
Following an investigation initiated in Romania, on 12 September 2016, the Romanian Desk opened a case at Eurojust and sought the assistance and support of Belgium, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. The target of the investigations was an international organised criminal group (OCG) accused of committing trafficking in human beings for sexual exploitation, pimping and money laundering. The investigations revealed that a substantial amount of money was obtained from those criminal activities. The banking transactions managed through the OCG alone total EUR 5 million.
Eurojust facilitated cooperation between DIICOT, the Territorial Service of Pitesti and the judicial authorities of the UK, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic by organising two coordination meetings at Eurojust. A joint investigation team (JIT) agreement was signed between Romania, Belgium and the UK. Eurojust provided logistical and financial support to the JIT and its members. In parallel, Eurojust received and facilitated the execution of requests for cooperation submitted within this investigation from countries not party to the JIT.
Europol contributed to the smooth exchange of information among the States concerned, supporting the operation by organising an operational meeting, providing cross-matches of information and setting up a mobile office in Romania on the action day.
At the conclusion of the action day, Ms Daniela Buruiana, National Member for Romania, said: ‘This highly successful joint action could not have taken place without the constructive collaboration of all the parties involved, demonstrating the importance of national police and judicial authorities cooperating fully with each other and with Eurojust to defeat criminals sexually exploiting innocent victims’.
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