Eurojust has provided support to authorities in Romania and the United Kingdom to organise and conduct a joint action day, during which close to 55 Romanian victims of labour exploitation were brought to safety. The victims, including several underaged young men, were forced to live in extremely poor conditions and work on construction sites without pay. A total of 11 suspects have been charged and 18 persons have been identified as belonging to the organised crime group (OCG) behind the exploitation. Eurojust helped to set up and supported a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case.
In total, 15 searches have taken place today, both in Romania and the United Kingdom. Property and cash were seized and frozen for an estimated amount of EUR 250 000, to secure victims’ claims.
The labour exploitation of more than 80 victims in the United Kingdom, dating back to 2015, by the Romanian-based OCG, is under judicial investigation. All victims originate from underprivileged families in Romania and were recruited by the criminal network, having been falsely promised good jobs in the United Kingdom.
On arrival, the victims were forced to work long hours without pay and were relieved of their identity papers by the perpetrators, except for occasional restitution to prevent police controls. The victims were regularly subjected to aggression and occasionally had to feed themselves from garbage cans while living in squalid housing.
The Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism cooperated with the Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service to investigate and stop the criminal activities.
Judicial cooperation was initiated back in 2019, and Eurojust actively supported the authorities by facilitating the establishment and funding the JIT with an amount of approximately EUR 68 000. The Agency organised three coordination meetings to facilitate the progress of the investigations.
The joint action day was carried out with the participation of specialised Romanian Police units, namely the Directorate for Countering Organized Crime and the Brasov Brigade for Countering Organized Crime.