The Hague, 21 April 2023
Judicial and law enforcement authorities in Romania, Ireland and the United Kingdom have dismantled a criminal network involved in trafficking and sexual exploitation of human beings, pimping and money laundering. During a joint action day, 12 suspects were charged. Eurojust provided support to set up and fund a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case and facilitated judicial cross-border cooperation.
Active since 2017, the organised crime group (OCG) allegedly recruited young Romanian women, some of them minors, and transported them to the United Kingdom and Ireland where they were sexually exploited. The prostitution service was advertised on dedicated escort websites and took place in rented apartments in various cities.
Starting initially in the UK, the leader of the criminal group has allegedly organised and developed a genuine prostitution network, assigning a specific role to each member of the OCG. He also created the conditions for other pimps to join and use the network to sexually exploit their own victims.
It is believed that the prostitution activities generated large sums of money that were used by the suspects to finance their luxurious lifestyles and to purchase valuable assets. Profits were laundered through banks and other money transfer services to conceal their illicit origin.
During a joint action day on 19 April, 12 suspects were charged, five of them were detained and four are under judicial control. A total of 19 house searches were carried out, 17 in Romania and 2 in Ireland. During the house searches, various means of evidence were seized, including laptops, mobile phones and cards. Six real estate properties, six premium and luxury vehicles and over EUR 22 500 in cash have been frozen.
The case was opened in December 2021 at the request of the Romanian authorities. A JIT was set up between the Romanian, Irish and UK authorities with the support of Eurojust in May 2022. Three coordination meetings were also hosted by the Agency to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.
The following authorities took part in this investigation:
- Romania: Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism – Buzau Territorial Office; Police Brigades for Countering Organized Crime Buzau, Bucuresti, Ploiesti
- Ireland: An Garda Síochána
- United Kingdom: Kent Police