Judicial and law enforcement authorities in Romania and the United Kingdom have dismantled a criminal network, which was involved in the large-scale trafficking of human beings and pimping, using the so-called ‘lover boy’ method. During a joint action day in both countries, 14 suspects were identified, and 18 searches were carried out with the support of Eurojust and Europol. A group of four young female victims has been identified and brought to safety.
The organised crime group (OCG) which ran the sexual exploitation scheme lured young victims from deprived areas by promising them better life opportunities in the United Kingdom. This so-called ‘lover boy’ method is often used by OCGs, who in reality take away victims’ passports and force them into sexual exploitation. The suspects involved in the network were known for their extreme use of violence towards the victims.
Investigations into the network began last year, with Eurojust supporting the authorities in both countries involved with the setting up and funding of a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case. A coordination meeting was also hosted by Eurojust to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.
Europol provided analytical support, assisted with the exchange of information and deployed officers on the spot during the action day. In addition, a Romanian judicial team assisted their UK counterparts on the ground.
During the action day, mobile phones, drugs, firearms, ammunition, credit cards and approximately EUR 60 000 in various currencies were seized.
The operation was carried out on the ground by:
- Romania: Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism – Pitesti Territorial Service; Pitesti, Buzau and Dambovita Police Units (Brigade and Services) for Countering Organized Crime; Police Brigade for Special Operations
- United Kingdom: Bedfordshire Police