ANI Photo | International sex-trafficking ring holding Chinese women trapped across Europe, dismantled

A law enforcement operation involving different countries has resulted in the dismantlement of an international sex-trafficking ring that held hundreds of Chinese women trapped in debt bondage across Europe, according to the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol.
According to Europol, the action is the biggest hit to date against Chinese human trafficking in Europe.
Some 34 house searches were carried out in Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp and Charleroi) and Spain (Alicante and Barcelona) on February 7. These actions followed earlier actions against members of this group which led to seven arrests in Switzerland in May 2022.
A total of 28 individuals were arrested (27 in Belgium and one in Spain). Among those arrested in Belgium feature five Chinese nationals considered as high-value targets by Europol due to their involvement in multiple high-profile cases in Europe, according to Europol.
This comes following an investigation led by the Belgian Federal Prosecutor (Federal Parket) and Federal Judicial Police East Flanders (Federale Gerechtelijke Politie Oost-Vlaanderen), working together with their counterparts in Spain, Germany, Poland and Switzerland, with the coordination of Europol and Eurojust.

The investigation uncovered how hundreds of Chinese women were forced into prostitution after being lured to Europe by the promise of a legitimate job.
The perpetrators use popular messaging apps in China to attract their victims. The victims are then smuggled to Europe using forged EU ID documents and residence permits which were either falsified or obtained using falsified supporting documents.
The victims once in Europe, are held in bondage and are forced to work as prostitutes to pay off their debts.
The criminals advertise the women online and set them up in hotels across Europe, rotating their victims between EU countries.
Over the course of the three-year-long investigation, over 3 000 online advertisements linked to this ring have been monitored by law enforcement. The investigators have been able to identify over 200 victims so far, with the actual number believed to be much higher, according to Europol.
International police cooperation was central in breaking up this Chinese prostitution ring with the help of cells scattered across Europe.
Initiated in 2020 by the Belgian authorities, this operation rapidly grew in scale, with targets being investigated simultaneously in multiple European jurisdictions. (ANI)

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