The suspects belonged to a family-based criminal group composed of Romanian nationals, writes Europol.
They recruited the victims from Romania, luring them to Spain with the so-called ‘loverboy method’. Once the victims reached Girona, the members of the criminal gang forced them into prostitution on the streets of the Spanish city.
The victims endured harsh living conditions, cold and hunger. Some of them were forced to prostitute themselves while pregnant and at high risk of being infected by COVID in the current pandemic.
To prove their ‘ownership’ over the victims, the criminal gang tattooed them. The suspects collected the money from the sexual exploitation and invested it in high-end vehicles, real estate, luxury goods and drugs.
During the action day, officers in Romania discovered pornographic material including content depicting the sexual abuse of a minor. Europol facilitated the information exchange and provided analytical support. During the action day, Europol hosted a virtual command post to coordinate the activities.
Europol also deployed an expert to Spain to cross-check operational information in real-time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical support with phone extraction capabilities. .
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