Coordinated actions from Romanian and French authorities to stop a human trafficking network

05 July 2024|PRESS RELEASE

Flags of Romania and France, logos of Europol and EurojustCoordinated efforts from Romanian and French authorities, with support from Eurojust and Europol, have led to the dismantling of a human trafficking network. The organised crime group (OCG) trafficked Romanian women into France for sexual exploitation. During a recent action day, eight suspects were identified and multiple victims and witnesses were heard. The victims have been offered support.

An ongoing investigation led by the Romanian authorities confirmed that, in order to obtain important material benefits, the OCG members have been committing offences of trafficking in human beings, pimping and money laundering, since at least January 2022.

The victims from disadvantaged backgrounds were recruited in Romania and subsequently transported to France for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The recruitment and control of the victims involved various forms of coercion, including threat, force and deception.

The suspects executed most of their activities from Romania, travelling to France only for short periods. Through profiles on a website, they coordinated their activities and were in touch with their clients.

Different short-term rental apartments in France, mostly located in Lyon, were used for their activities. The proceeds of the sexual exploitation were sent to the leaders of the group in Romania and laundered through different investments.

With the support of Eurojust, connections between Romanian and French investigative authorities were made, bringing prosecution to the next phase.

The cooperation between the authorities led to a joint action day on 3 July, coordinated by Eurojust. In Romania, 14 locations were searched and vehicles and money were also seized. Furthermore, bank cards which belonged to victims were found. Of the eight six suspects, six were identified in Romania and two in France. Two of the suspects have been arrested.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support to the investigation. On the action day, Europol deployed staff to the coordination centre at Eurojust.

Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation remains the most prevalent form of exploitation in the European Union, with women and girls accounting for 87% of victims. As human trafficking usually takes place across borders, judicial cooperation is key to dismantling the OCGs and bringing them to justice. In 2023, Eurojust assisted in over 300 cross-border human trafficking cases.

The authorities involved in the actions:

  • Romania: Prosecution Office of High Court of Cassation and Justice, Directorate for Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism, Mehedinti Territorial Office; Special Operations Directorate, Service for Combating Organized Crime Olt and Gorj; Offices for Combating Organized Crime of Bucharest and Craiova; Mobile Gendarmerie Group "Buzești Brothers" Craiova, Special Intervention Brigade of the Gendarmerie
  • France: Investigative judge from JIRS Lyon (Interregional Specialised Jurisdiction); Research Section Lyon, Gendarmerie Nationale