The arrests were made in Spain, Portugal and France as part of a coordinated effort by Brazilian federal police and European law enforcement.
European and Brazilian police have teamed up to dismantle an organized criminal group for its involvement in human trafficking and online sexual exploitation.
In this operation, the French border police, the Spanish national police, the Brazilian federal police and the Portuguese judicial police took part in the operation with the support of Europol.
People suspected of being involved in the malicious activities of criminal networks have been arrested after raids in Spain, France and Portugal.
Details of arrests
Law enforcement inspected fourteen locations between June 20 and June 23, 2022, during which they interviewed eight victims of sexual exploitation and arrested ten individuals.
Among those arrested, one was Spanish and nine Brazilians. Authorities seized electronic equipment, vehicles, hard drives, SIM cards, payment cards, documents, around 40 mobile phones and €20,000 in cash.
According to Europol’s press release, it was a well-organized operation where the suspects used a “complex financial” mechanism to direct their income from France to Brazil via banks in Spain and Portugal.
The investigation began in March 2021. However, investigators are certain the group was operating long before that. This criminal network was mainly made up of Brazilians, while the victims resided in Spain, France and Portugal. Further investigation reveals that this network had targeted more than 100 victims.
“Investigators have identified that the 13 main suspects are located in Brazil, Portugal and Spain. Two suspects based in France formed a branch while exploiting the same victims controlled by the main criminal group.
The gang advertised the victims on specific websites and managed their online accounts. For their sexual exploitation activities, the criminals rented hotel rooms and apartments for an entire week. More than 60 such sites were identified in France and the gang earned around €120,000 per month from these activities.