Joint action against human trafficking in Belgium and Spain

08 February 2023|PRESS RELEASE

Flags of Belgium Spain Germany Poland, logos of Europol and EurojustWith the support of Eurojust and Europol, the Belgian, Polish, German and Spanish authorities have taken action against an organised crime group (OCG) involved in the trafficking of Chinese women for sexual exploitation in Belgium and other European countries. During a joint action, 28 suspects were arrested and 34 searches were carried out.

The suspects allegedly belong to a criminal network that recruits women in China and transfers them to Europe where they are forced into sexual exploitation. Customers can book their appointments on websites specialised in sex advertising. The encounters take place in hotels, holiday accommodations or in other locations arranged through online rental platforms.

The victims are frequently moved to different countries in Europe and are required to hand over a large part of their money to the OCG. A significant proportion of the victims no longer have legal residence status, which increases their dependence on the criminal network.

Desperate girlThe OCG is believed to have acquired large sums of money through this criminal activity. This money is transferred abroad through legal and illegal channels.

The case was opened by Eurojust in October 2020 at the request of the Belgian authorities. Two coordination meetings were hosted by the Agency to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.

Europol provided additional analytical support to the investigation and set up a dedicated Operational Task Force.

During a joint action on 7 February, 28 suspects were arrested, 27 in Belgium and 1 in Spain. A total of 34 searches were carried out, 28 in Belgium and 6 in Spain.

EUR 1.5 million in cash and 4 tonnes of 1 and 2 euro coins were seized.

The following authorities took part in this investigation:

  • Belgium: Federal Prosecution Office (Federaal Parket/Parquet Fédéral); Investigating Judge Ghent (Onderzoeksrechter/Juge d’Instruction); Federal Judicial Police (Federale Gerechtelijke Politie/Police Judicaire Fédérale) – Brussels, Antwerp, Halle-Vilvoorde, Charleroi; Immigration Office (Dienst Vreemdelingenzaken/Office des Étrangers)
  • Germany: Federal Police (Bundeskriminalamt)
  • Poland: National Police Headquarters – Komenda Główna Policji
  • Spain: Prosecutor's Office of Barcelona, National Police Corps (UCRIF CENTRAL- BCTSH), Investigating Court nº 4 of Hospitalet de LLobregat, Investigating Court nº 4 of Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Investigating Court nº 4 of Badalona, Court of Instruction nº 4 of Torrevieja (Alicante) and Investigating Court nº 5 of Palma de Mallorca.