Supported by Eurojust, judicial and law enforcement authorities in Romania and the United Kingdom have dismantled a criminal network involved in trafficking and sexual exploitation of human beings (including minors), pimping, child pornography, money laundering and forgery.
During an action day, sixteen locations were searched across the two countries. Five suspects were arrested in the UK. In Romania, nine suspects were called to the Prosecutor’s Office for hearings.
Active since 2012, the organised crime group (OGC) allegedly recruited women in Romania and forced them into prostitution in the UK by advertising their services on escort sites. The victims and their families were threatened with violence.
One of the leaders of the criminal group is believed to have committed crimes of sexual intercourse with a minor and child pornography after recruiting a 17-year-old victim, having sex with her and recording pornographic material to blackmail her afterwards. The same leader allegedly attempted sexual corruption of minors by trying to persuade a family in a precarious economic situation to release a minor into his custody.
It is believed that the prostitution activities generated over EUR 3 million. Profits were laundered through UK banks and transmitted back into Romanian back accounts for the benefit of the high-ranking OCG members.
The case was opened at Eurojust in June 2021 at the request of the Romanian authorities. The Agency supported the authorities in Romania and the UK with the setting up and funding of a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case in August 2021. Two coordination meetings were also hosted by Eurojust to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.
During the action day on 18 May, nine suspects were found in ten house searches in Romania. They were called to the Prosecutor’s Office for hearings. Four cars with an approximate value of EUR 250 000, EUR 137 000 in cash, weapons and several electronic devices were seized. An order to seize EUR 1 million worth of assets was issued.
In the UK, five suspects were arrested and six locations searched. Drugs, weapons and money in cash were seized. A Romanian delegation was present during the operation taking place in the UK.
The following authorities took part in this investigation:
- Romania: Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice -Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure; General Inspectorate of Romanian Police – the Directorate for Countering Organised Crime – Service for Countering Organised Criminal Groups.
- United Kingdom: Metropolitan Police Service – Specialist Crime; Crown Prosecution Service.