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The Hague, 10 July 2015
On 23 June, 12 people trafficking young girls were arrested in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) and France.
The network trafficked underage Bosnian girls who committed theft, mainly on the Parisian public transport system. The network made estimated profits of more than EUR 2 million. After the operation, called ‘CD’, six children and young women were placed in a child reception centre in BiH.
Since at least 2012, those arrested are suspected of recruiting many women by physical force, threats, and psychological violence. The proceeds of their crimes have been used to buy luxury vehicles and properties in BiH. The suspects are charged with money laundering, falsification of documents and drug abuse, among other things.
France has supported French-Bosnian cooperation against the network through joint investigation, surveillance, telephone interception, securing searches, seizures and arrest warrants since the operation began in 2014. Judicial authorities, police, NGOs, institutions in charge of legal child protection in France and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Eurojust worked closely together to make this operation a success.
This Eurojust case is notable for many reasons: among them, a joint French-Bosnian investigation team was set up for the first time, and included financing from Eurojust. Two coordination meetings were set up, bringing the involved authorities together in The Hague and Sarajevo.
Also a specific support for the victims of the network was foreseen (placement, as a protective measure, in reception centres, and appointment of guardians for minors). As part of this project, the arrests and the first juvenile protection measures fall within the Franco-Bosnian multidisciplinary action plan drawn up in March 2015. The young perpetrators and some women were seen as victims of the network more than offenders. They are accordingly protected by the law.
‘This demonstrates that judicial cooperation with third States such as Bosnia-Hercegovina works very well; they are prepared and capable of addressing the most advanced and complex forms of organised criminal networks. This action also underpins Eurojust’s work by supporting the Member States in addressing one of the priority crime types of the European Union, and highlights the close cooperation achieved between France, Bosnia and UNODC, which is vital in fighting cross-border crime,’ said Mr Cyril Lacombe, Assistant to the National Member for France.
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