Twenty-four suspects were arrested in an EU-wide “action week” against child trafficking, European police agency Europol said on August 14.
The action week was held in 22 member states, among them Bulgaria.
Europol said that 51 children and 72 adults had been identified as potential victims of trafficking.
“During the week of July 2, law enforcement officers from 22 member states, other European countries and partner agencies actively participated in an EMPACT THB Action on Child-trafficking,” the police agency said.
“As a result of the action 51 children and 72 adults were identified as potential victims of trafficking. The youngest child was only two years old. The children were exploited for labour, forced begging and sexual purposes,” Europol said.
Several links to migrant smuggling and document forgery were also identified. Forty-five new cases had been initiated. Twenty-four suspects were arrested for THB (trafficking in human beings) offences and a further 61 suspects were arrested in relation to other crimes.
The actions focused mainly on hotspots for sexual exploitation, forced begging and forced criminality (e.g. pickpocketing and minor thefts), and intensified activities at border crossing points.
As the identification of victims of trafficking in human beings remains very challenging, particularly the identification of child victims, many participating countries also undertook prevention and awareness raising activities, Europol said.
(Photo: Bart Groenhuizen/sxc.hu)