Fifteen people have been arrested in Lithuania and Spain in an operation against a human trafficking organisation, according to Europol, which coordinated the international operation.
Two leaders of the criminal network were arrested in Spain, while the remaining 13 members were arrested in Lithuania. All 15 detainees are Lithuanians, ranging in age from 21 to 46 years.
The suspects have been charged with trafficking in human beings, looting in an organised group, disorderly conduct, possession of weapons and drugs, and various other criminal acts.
The criminal group was involved in the trafficking of women into to Lithuania from third countries like Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova. Once in Lithuania they were forced into prostitution, receiving customers in flats rented out by the criminal gang and paid for from the women’s earnings.
At a press conference on Wednesday, it was reported that the operation was carried out by representatives of Europol and Eurojust, the Lithuanian Prosecutor General’s Office, officials and the Organized Crime Investigation Service. “Two Spanish officials took part in Lithuania. Lithuanian officials also worked in Malaga, Spain,” Chief of Vilnius County Police Saulius Gagas said.
At the press conference in Vilnius, which was attended by representatives of the Spanish National Police, reporters were told that ten women were freed from the gang, but that that number could still rise. According to Eurojust, the gang was responsible for forcing some 188 women into prostitution.
The suspects detained in Spain are alleged to be in charge of controlling the prostitution network abroad.
Large amounts of cash, drugs and multiple false documents were seized, in addition to weapons and ammunition, during more than 50 raids carried out on properties belonging to the gang.
The detainees were known to police, according to Lithuanian media reports. “They have criminal pasts … prosecution for drug use, public order offenses, including theft,” said Vilnius Police Chief Saulius Gagas.
They are also believed to have been behind a number of arson attacks against rival prostitution gangs in Vilnius.
Originally published on The Scandal.net