Crackdown on criminal network that used minors and women for street begging in Portugal

12 April 2024|PRESS RELEASE

flags of PT RO, and Europol Eurojust logosSupported by Eurojust and Europol, judicial and law enforcement authorities in Portugal and Romania have dismantled an organised crime group involved in human trafficking, qualified fraud and money laundering. The suspects allegedly transported Romanian citizens, mostly minors and women, to Portugal and used them to beg for a fictitious association, posing as deaf-mute children and young people.

distressed children

The criminal network is believed to have made a profit of over EUR 230,000 from this criminal activity.

During a joint action on 11-14 March, the Portuguese and Romanian authorities carried out six house searches, interrogated three defendants and interviewed five witnesses in Romania. Eight more suspects were interrogated in the weeks following the operation. At least thirty victims were identified and brought to safety.

Eurojust assisted the Portuguese and Romanian authorities in setting up and funding a joint investigation team into the case in April 2023. The Agency organised and hosted two coordination meetings to facilitate judicial cooperation and prepare for the joint action.

Europol facilitated the exchange of information between the different law enforcement authorities involved.

The following authorities took part in this investigation:

  • Portugal: Porto Public Prosecution Office; Porto Public Security Police
  • Romania: Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure (PPO); Service for Combating Organised Crime Ialomita (police)