An international network of prostitution, drug trafficking and money laundering has been broken up following raids by investigators in Romania and the UK, according to a press release by the Romanian organised crime directorate on Wednesday.
About 10,000 euros worth of cash in Romanian Leu and other currencies was seized during raids on eight locations in Ialomita Country in the southeast of Romania as well as in the UK on Tuesday. Three houses, three cars and one apartment were also seized along with bank accounts.
One person was detained in the UK, while another was taken into judicial control, and a European arrest warrant was issued on behalf of another, to be transferred to the UK for further questioning.
The investigations carried out in Ialomita County were attended by Romania’s organised crime and terrorism directorate, DIICOT, in Ialomita and Bucharest. A Romanian team also took part in simultaneous actions in the UK carried out by London’s Metropolitan Police.
According to DIICOTT, the organized crime group was set up in 2015 and ahve trafficked at least UK at least 22 women into the UK. Further searches are expected to take place as Romanian and British authorities investigate the extent of the network.
A UK parliamentary report last year found that the trafficking of women for sex, the majority of whom come from Romania and other Eastern European countries, is taking place on an “industrial scale” across England and Wales.
According to the report, so-called “pop-up brothels” – properties rented for short periods of time to sexually exploit women – are widespread.
Figures from raids on hundreds of brothels carried out by police forces across the UK in 2017 and 2018 found that often upwards of three-quarters of the women working in them were from Romania.
MPs have subsequently called for the criminalisation of paying for sex and the decriminalisation or selling sex, as well as a crackdown on websites from advertising and profiting from prostitution.