Europol supported Europe-wide coordinated action days against human trafficking for labour exploitation in the agricultural sector.
The operation, led by France, involved a wide range of law enforcement authorities including police, immigration and border guards, labour inspectorates and tax authorities from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Spain. The European Labour Authority also supported the action days. Almost 2,050 officers from national authorities took part in the operational activities on the ground.
There were 12 arrests, eight in France and four in Spain; 54 suspected traffickers identified, 27 in France, 21 in Italy, two in Latvia, four in Spain; and 269 possible victims of exploitation identified, 81 of which of trafficking of human beings, 17 in Cyprus, 91 in France, 134 in Italy, 24 in Spain and three in Latvia)
Law enforcement authorities carried out inspections in working places identified as more vulnerable to exploitation, such as farms and vineyards. The checks focused on the working conditions of the employees.
Non-EU nationals have been identified as most vulnerable to exploitation in seasonal employments, while EU nationals are reported to be exploited in the agricultural sector year-round. The action days targeted criminal networks and facilitators involved in the trafficking of human beings, specialised in ‘brokering’ employment on the illegal market.
“Labour exploitation is a very lucrative criminal activity, damaging the health and rights of the victims. A successful operation in France dismantled a criminal network, which has generated an estimated €5 million in damages for victims and authorities. During the actions against this network, authorities searched 25 locations and arrested winegrowers, service providers and intermediaries,” Europol said.
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