Italy, Bulgaria Bust Forced Prostitution Network with Europol’s HelpCrime | April 8, 2016, Friday // 17:20| views
People take part in a performance of the Stations of the Cross, to show solidarity with victims of trafficking, forced prostitution and violence, in the centre of Rome, Italy, 26 February 2016. Photo EPA/BGNES
An organised criminal group of 12 Bulgarian nationals running a network for trafficking women to Italy for prostitution had been dismantled by Italian carabinieri and the Bulgarian police with the support of Europol, the EU law enforcement agency announced on Friday.
The women were recruited in Bulgaria and then transferred to Italy to be exploited in the sex industry, the investigation has found. It was launched by the Italian authorities in September 2015 and completed in January-February this year, Europol said in a statement.
The investigation also revealed that the members of the organized criminal group were systematically using violence, intimidation, extortion and assaults to control their prostitution business in the region, “with ramifications in other EU Member States”.
“One of the group's leaders was identified as a high-value target criminal, already convicted for murder and actively wanted” by police in several European countries, Europol said.
Europol also said that it had supported the cross-border operation and provided operational and analytical support to the countries involved throughout the investigation.