The Hague, 10 March 2022
With the active support of Eurojust, a simultaneous operation led by the Romanian authorities took place today in Romania, Germany and the United Kingdom targeting an organised criminal group (OCG) accused of pimping, human trafficking, blackmail, usury and money laundering. Twenty-two suspects were detained in Romania. In total, thirty-eight houses were searched in the three countries involved. In addition, thirteen cars, a variety of electronic equipment, weapons, cash and jewellery were seized.
The members of the OCG had been operating for several years, mainly in Germany and Romania and more recently in the United Kingdom. They are accused of pimping, human trafficking, usury, blackmail and money laundering offences.
The OGC was a well-established kinship network that generated substantial proceeds for its members. They displayed a luxurious lifestyle and asserted themselves as leaders of the local community immune to the law.
The investigations revealed that the perpetrators coerced several young women from Romania, some of whom were underage, into working as prostitutes abroad. The money gained from this activity was subsequently laundered in Romania. Further, a portion of this money was lent with interest and recovered through blackmail or threats, adding further interest rates to those initially agreed upon.
The case was brought at Eurojust back in 2017 by the Romanian authorities (Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice-Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Dambovita Territorial Office) with a view to receiving assistance in achieving a coordinated approach to dismantle this criminal network.
Eurojust supported the judicial cooperation by organising two coordination meetings between the authorities involved, as well as by providing legal and judicial advice to determine the best prosecutorial strategy and tools to collect the evidence. The Agency also facilitated the issuance and execution of European Investigation Orders (EIOs) and Letters of Request (LoRs).
During a joint action day on 10 March, 22 suspects were detained in Romania. A total of 38 house searches were carried out: 33 in Romania, 3 in Germany and 2 in the United Kingdom. During the house searches in Romania, 13 cars were seized along with money in cash (RON 128 000 and EUR 26 500), 6 laptops, 32 mobile phones, 4 guns and white weapons, luxury watches and jewellery. In Germany, 7 mobile phones and 3 laptops were seized. In the UK, 3 mobile phones, 1 laptop and approximately GBP 5 000 in cash were seized.
The following authorities took part in the operation:
- Romania: Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice-Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Dâmbovița Territorial Service; General Inspectorate of Romanian Police; Directorate for Combating Organised Crime; Service for Combating Criminality Dâmbovița; Service for Criminal Investigations Dâmbovița; Brigades for Combating Organised Crime from Ploiești; Pitești, Buzău and Dâmbovița Inspectorate for Gendarmerie.
- Germany: Public Prosecutor’s Office Arnsberg; Public Prosecutor’s Office Duisburg; District Police Office Hochsauerlandkreis; Oberhausen Police Headquarters; Essen Police Headquarters.
- The National Crime Agency coordinated the response of the United Kingdom Police Forces.