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Irish law enforcement helps catch 130 child trafficking suspects in European operation

‘Many fall victim to sexual exploitation, forced begging or different types of forced criminality, including petty crimes and drug trafficking’

Dozens of vulnerable children were identified

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Irish law enforcement agencies have taken part in a successful Europe-wide operation against child trafficking that resulted in the arrests of 130 suspects as well as the identification of around 130 potential victims.

More than 22,480 law enforcement officers from 22 countries including Ireland took part in Europol’s “action days”, from June 6 to 13, that saw checks carried out at European sea, land, and air borders, with an additional focus on heavily used routes into Europe.

As well as the 130 criminals who were arrested, around 60 additional suspects have been identified, and 100 new investigations have been launched.

In total, more than 130 possible victims of human trafficking were identified, with more than a dozen of them being confirmed as minors. The checks led to over 220 forged documents being detected.

Over the course of the two-week operation, law enforcement agencies also checked the identity of over 11,130 minors, “who remain the most vulnerable group within persons being trafficked and exploited”.

“Many fall victim to sexual exploitation, forced begging or different types of forced criminality, including petty crimes and drug trafficking,” Europol said in a statement.

“They also become victims of labour exploitation and domestic slavery.”

Europol said they supported the coordination of operational activities, facilitated the exchange of information, and provided analytical support.

“On the action days, Europol activated a Virtual Command Post to facilitate the information exchange in real time, while dedicated analysts cross-checked operational information against Europol’s databases,” they added.

"This provided further investigative leads to the participating national law enforcement authorities.

As well as Ireland, participating countries included Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

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