21 people arrested for alleged labor exploitation: Europol

21 people arrested for alleged labor exploitation: Europol

Authorities identified 261 potential victims across Europe, launched 86 new investigations after data gathering

By Giovanni Legorano

ROME (AA) – European authorities arrested 21 individuals accused of human trafficking for labor exploitation, Europol said Wednesday.

More than 27,000 officers carried out inspections in a total of 11,360 locations across Europe in a range of sectors, including gastronomy, agriculture and the beauty industry, focusing in particular on the exploitation of non-EU nationals and refugees.

Authorities identified 261 victims of alleged exploitation during the operations. Data gathered during the operation has led to the launch of 86 new investigations in order to identify additional suspects and victims linked to human trafficking cases across the EU and abroad, Europol said.

The arrests took place between June 10 and 17 under a pan-European operation involving law enforcement and labor authorities from 31 countries supported by Eurojust, the European Labor Authority and Frontex.

Inspections were mostly carried out in labor-intensive sectors which require low-skilled workers, Europol said.

“Employees in industries such as transport, logistics and construction are more vulnerable to exploitation due to factors such as the informal, unstable and underpaid nature of their work and a lack of agency to seek justice if their rights are violated,” it added.

As part of the operations, authorities from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom targeted a specific unnamed restaurant chain.

They conducted simultaneous checks in 15 restaurants across Europe. Some locations were closed immediately and several fines were imposed on the spot, Europol said.

Authorities also focused on identifying criminal networks potentially exploiting the Ukrainian war as refugees fleeing war zones represent a particularly vulnerable group, Europol added.

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