Sixteen individuals have been arrested and nine underage victims rescued during a joint operation between the Spanish National Police, the Urban Guard of Barcelona (Guardia Urbana) and Europol, to dismantle an organised crime group (OCG) involved in trafficking young women. The action day took place on 14 November in Barcelona and resulted in the seizure of two vehicles, counterfeit documents, mobile and electronic devices and around EUR 5000.

During the field action in Spain, Europol provided on-the-spot support by deploying a mobile office with real-time access to Europol’s databases to extract and analyse data gathered during house searches.

The members of the OCG recruited their victims from Bosnia and Herzegovina to be exploited in France, Italy and Spain through forced criminality. The women travelled to Spain using counterfeit documents where they were trained in pickpocketing techniques and forced to commit thefts in crowded areas and on public transport.

The investigation discovered that the OCG shared family ties and was hierarchically structured in smaller groups operating in different European cities. The criminal network, composed of Bosnian nationals, traded the victims from one group to another for an estimated EUR 5000 each.

Europol contributed to the operation from the start of the investigation by providing operational and analytical support, tailored intelligence analysis, as well as facilitating information exchange.

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