Nine members of an international human trafficking network were arrested on Tuesday, Europol announced. Law enforcement and judicial authorities of Bulgaria, Belgium, France and Poland conducted a joint operation coordinated by Europol and the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust).
The network was trafficking young Bulgarian women who were taken to countries of the European Union, including Belgium and France, for sexual exploitation. Members of the trafficking network collected the money earned by forced prostitution and transferred it to Bulgaria through Western Union for investment purposes.
The investigation began in France in October 2010, and subsequently expanded to the other participating countries. According to Europol, “given the mobility of perpetrators, the involvement of Poland and Belgium in the coordinated action became necessary.” The raids against the trafficking group took place in all four countries, and the authorities seized a large amount of documentation to be used as evidence.
Mariana Lilova, the Eurojust National Member for Bulgaria, commented that “Simultaneous operations were carried out in three different regions in Bulgaria, which required a high level of commitment and coordination from our national authorities.”
French police officers participated in the raids carried out in Belgium, Bulgaria and Poland, in order to “facilitate direct cooperation” between the four countries. Three of the suspects were arrested in Bulgaria.