The arrests were made in Spain, Portugal, and France in a coordinated effort by Brazilian Federal Police and European law enforcement agencies.
European and Brazilian police joined hands to take down an organized crime group for its involvement in human trafficking and online sexual exploitation.
In this operation, French Border Police, the Spanish National Police, the Brazilian Federal Police, and the Portuguese Judicial Police participated in the operation with the support of Europol.
Those suspected of involvement in the criminal networks’ malicious activities were arrested after raids in Spain, France, and Portugal.
Details of the Arrests
The law enforcement agencies surveyed fourteen locations between 20 and 23 June 2022, during which they interviewed eight victims of sexual exploitation and arrested ten individuals.
Among the arrested individuals, one was a Spanish national, while nine were Brazilian. The authorities seized electronic equipment, vehicles, hard drives, SIM cards, payment cards, documents, around forty mobile phones, and €20,000 in cash.
According to Europol’s press release, this was a well-organized operation where the suspected utilized a “complex financial” mechanism for directing their earnings from France to Brazil through banks in Spain and Portugal.
The investigation started back in March 2021. However, investigators are certain that the group was operating much before that. This criminal network mainly comprised Brazilians, whereas the victims lived in Spain, France, and Portugal. Further probe reveals that this network had targeted around 100+ victims.
“The investigators identified that the 13 main suspects were located in Brazil, Portugal, and Spain. Two suspects based in France formed a branch while exploiting the same victims controlled by the main criminal group.”
The gang advertised the victims on specific websites and managed their online accounts. For their sexual exploitation activities, the criminals rented hotel rooms and apartments for an entire week. More than 60 such locations were identified in France, and the gang made around €120,000 per month through these activities.