THE alleged leaders of a Lithuanian human trafficking and sexual exploitation network have been arrested in Malaga
Spain’s National Police, in a joint operation with the Lithuanian National Police under the coordination and support of EUROPOL and Eurojust, has dismantled a criminal organisation dedicated to the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women in Lithuania, where 25 victims have been released.
The alleged leaders lived in two locations in the province of Malaga – Velez-Malaga and Arenas – although the criminal activity took place in Lithuania. There, they recruited women from former Soviet republics and sexually exploited them.
There are 15 detainees, all of them of Lithuanian nationality. As well as the two arrested in Malaga, 13 suspected members of the criminal organisation were detained in the Baltic country.
The investigation started last January when the National Police became aware, thanks to the collaboration of the Lithuanian police, of the existence of a criminal organisation engaged in trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women in Lithuania, with the leaders living in the province of Malaga.
They are alleged to have directed the organisation from Spain, recruiting women from the former Soviet republics to sexually exploit them. It also coerced others who voluntarily engaged in prostitution to do so under the control of the network, with former Lithuanian prisoners in charge of threatening and frightening the victims.
Police say that the organisation’s leaders directly managed, through various websites, the renting of flats in at least 11 Lithuanian localities, where the victims were forced into prostitution. The criminal network under investigation also had on its payroll individuals who were in charge of collecting the profits from prostitution and then sent the money to Spain.
These remittances were made through money transfer agencies, or through couriers who travelled to Spain with the cash.
The police investigation ended with the entry and search of 38 homes, two in Malaga province and 36 in Lithuania. As a result of the searches, €40,000, four vehicles, a firearm, more than 100 electronic devices and abundant documentation were seized.
Of the 15 people arrested, 11 have been remanded in custody (nine in Lithuania and the two leaders in Spain). The detainees are charged with the crimes of belonging to a criminal organisation, trafficking in human beings, money laundering and false documentation.