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Europol help dismantle gang involved in human trafficking for forced begging

The victims were subjected to inhumane treatment and living environments and endured violence at the hands of the suspects

Clodagh Meaney

Europol have helped to dismantle a forced begging crime ring.

Police in Austria, Hungary, Germany, and Romania were supported by Europol and Eurojust in disrupting an organised crime gang involved in human trafficking for forced begging.

Authorities say that the gang was particularly violent and abused extremely vulnerable victims who were homeless and had addiction issues.

They were forced to beg in specific locations in a number of cities including the German cities of Ingolstadt, Nurnberg and Berlin and the Austrian cities of Feldkirch, Linz, Bad Hall and Stayer.

Those forced into begging were completely dependent on the criminal network and their documents were taken from them on arrival in foreign countries in which they did not speak the language.

The criminal network provided them with a sandwich or just enough alcohol to survive the day, while simultaneously earning over €200,000 from the activities of the 11 victims.

The victims were subjected to inhumane treatment and living environments and endured violent behaviour at the hands of the suspects.

Two of the victims died because of health-related issues while being exploited in extremely degrading conditions.

The criminal gang also forced a similarly vulnerable person to work at their house and Europol said he was treated as a “domestic slave.”.

During seven coordinated searches on April 6th, one in Austria, one in Hungary, two in Germany and three in Romania there were four arrests made.

Phones and other electronic devices were seized along with over €90,000, RON 9,400 and 1kg of gold.

In a statement, Interpol told the media: “Since 2017, national authorities of the four countries concerned have investigated this family-based organised crime group.”

“This has included investigating group members of Romanian and Hungarian origin who were trafficking and exploiting victims in Austria and Germany.”

“Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided analytical support in this investigation. On the action day, Europol deployed a virtual command post to enable the real-time exchange of information between investigators, Europol and Eurojust.”

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