UK law enforcement organisations have worked closely with Europol in several recent operations that led to a number of significant arrests.
One such operation involved authorities from Slovakia and the United Kingdom, supported by Europol and Eurojust. The operation succeeded in dismantling an organised criminal group involved in trafficking Slovak victims for the purposes of sham marriages and sexual exploitation.
As part of the operation, Police Scotland conducted house searches in Glasgow, which resulted in five suspects being arrested and detained in police custody. Sixteen women - potential victims of trafficking - were also identified and were offered specialist care and assistance.
A significant amount of evidence (numerous travel documents, computer equipment, mobile phones and cash) was seized during the operation, and will be used for further investigation.
Shortly afterwards, the second phase of this coordinated operation took place in Trebisov, Slovakia, where four search warrants and four arrests were executed.
Europol explains that the modus operandi of this organised criminal group was to recruit vulnerable women from challenging socio-economic backgrounds by deception, promising them attractive and well-paid jobs abroad, and then forcing them into sham marriages and prostitution.
Europol actively supported this human trafficking operation and provided operational and analytical support to Slovakia and the United Kingdom throughout the investigation. Europol specialists in human trafficking delivered real-time cross-checks of the data gathered using a mobile office and data extraction device during the actions.
In a second operation, Europol and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) worked together to secure the conviction of a transnational serial child sex offender.
The suspect, a 70 year old former teacher, pleaded guilty to 23 additional charges including sexual abuse of two pupils at a UK school in the 1980’s and 1990’s. He had previously pleaded guilty to 22 other charges related to the sexual abuse of nine children in Thailand between 2009 and 2012.
The suspect was extradited from Spain after efforts coordinated by Europol and the UK, Spanish and the Dutch Liaison Bureaux at Europol.
Investigators in the Netherlands had discovered images of the suspect on the computer of another offender. Reports on the case state that the suspect had occupied a number of positions of trust in the UK and in Thailand, including teaching and as a scout leader. Previously convicted of possession of child sexual exploitation material in 1992 he was further investigated in 2002 at an address in Guernsey and again in 2012 as part of Operation Spade in the UK. By then he was living in and travelling to various countries, including Thailand where police arrested him in 2013. He later skipped bail.
In 2016, the NCA discovered that he had an address in Spain. Europol supported the NCA, through its dedicated team for child sexual abuse, as well as the UK, Spanish and Dutch Liaison Bureaux at Europol. The support was coordinated with the separate inquiries on the suspect in the different countries. After a European Arrest Warrant was issued by the National Crime Agency it was successfully executed in Spain leading to the suspect's extradition.
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