Romanian prosecutors say they have broken up a ring that recruited young girls who were first sexually exploited in Romania until they turned 18 and then trafficked to Western Europe.
Destinations included Ireland, Britain, Scotland and Germany.
“There were also cases in which the victims were transferred to (other) EU countries,” prosecutors said in a statement. The girls traveled abroad with fake identity documents.
The bust is a result of a joint operation involving the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, Europol, Eurojust, Scottish police, and Romanian embassy officials in London.
Police raided 32 homes in Romania and Britain on Wednesday and arrested 14 suspects in Romania, a statement said.
British police have arrested another three alleged members of the ring, and seven more suspected of complicity in human and child trafficking, pimping and money laundering.
They confiscated four luxury cars, mobile phones and other goods.
The ring was set up in Romania in 2009 and 28 people were part of the gang, which targeted “minors from unprivileged circles, low income or disorganized families,” a statement said.
“The victims were exploited with the false promise that the money they obtained from…prostitution would be invested in real estate and other goods they would own together with their life partners,” the statement from Romanian prosecutors said..
The young women were closely monitored by a gang leader who in turn paid protection money to a higher-up gang leader.