Five people have been arrested in an operation targeting a Slovakian organised crime group suspected of human trafficking and large scale money laundering, according to Eurojust, the EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit.
Several properties belonging to the criminals were searched during raids carried out in Slovakia, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The crimes of the gang were committed between 2008 and 2017 in the Slovakian regions of Prešov and Košice and on UK territory, Eurojust said.
UK authorities began investigating the gang in 2015, before its members moved to Germany in 2017, where the investigation continued under the coordination of Eurojust. The gang are suspected of operating a trafficking ring that recruited workers in Slovakia under false pretenses. The workers were then given bogus contracts and made to work for between 12 and 14 hours a day, six days a week in Chinese restaurants and car wash businesses.
Although they were nominally paid £400 per week, the criminals appropriated most of their earnings arbitrarily claiming reimbursement for transport, accommodation and food, leaving them with only approximately £20 per week. The members of the gang subsequently transferred that illegally obtained income to Slovakia to disguise its origin.
As part of the investigation, the UK authorities issued European arrest warrants for a total of four Slovak nationals.
According to information from the British law enforcement agencies, a 51-year-old male Slovak, his 48-year-old wife and a 46-year-old accomplice of the couple were detected and detained by investigators in the German town of Goch near the border with the Netherlands.
Another Slovakian accomplice was arrested in the Netherlands.
The arrested persons appeared before the courts last week in their respective jurisdictions and will be transferred to the UK to face trial.