The French Border Police (Police National/Police aux frontiers) and the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled the criminal network involved in human trafficking for sexual exploitation.
An action day in March led to 13 arrests (suspects from Bolivian, Colombian, Ecuadorian, French, Spanish, Peruvian and Venezuelan origin), and 25 victims originating from South America were identified. As part of the operation, two real estate properties, approximately EUR 53,000 across multiple bank accounts, more than EUR 300, 000 in cash, and digital equipment including over 70 mobile phones were seized.
French Border Police initiated the investigation in January 2021, although investigators suspect that the network was already active for some time before that. The members of the criminal network, predominantly of Spanish nationality, exploited mainly Colombian nationals in Spain and in the area around the French city of Nantes. The suspects recruited clients via websites and controlled the accounts advertising the victims. The network transported the illegal profits from France to Spain themselves or by using money mules. The criminals laundered their proceeds through investments in real estate and cash-intensive businesses such as bars and clubs in Spain.
Europol coordinated the operational activities, facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support. Europol deployed two experts to France and one expert to Spain to cross-check operational information in real time and support investigators on the ground with technical and asset-recovery expertise.