Yesterday, Europol issued a press release stating that they supported:

“a Europe-wide action week carried out by law enforcement agencies from a total of 22 Member States and Third Parties aimed at organised crime groups (OCG) trafficking vulnerable individuals for the purpose of sexual exploitation.”

The crime areas of human trafficking and illegal immigration were targeted from June 26 till July 2nd, in search for victims and perpetrators.

Austria led the large scale Europol coordinated operation, checking 126.927 individuals on 4245 different flagged locations. These locations were the usual suspects like red-light district areas, brothels, private flats, massage parlours, airports but also land and sea border crossing points, etc. Online (sexual) advertisements were investigated as well.

As a result, Europol stated that:

 107 suspects were detained or arrested for offences including trafficking in human beings and illegal immigration. 910 potential victims of trafficking were identified. Information collected during the operation has led to the launch of 25 new inquiries (…) in order to identify additional suspects and victims connected to human trafficking cases across the EU.”

Notably, the human traffic victims and perpetrators originated mostly from Nigeria, South America and Eastern-Europe.

In addition, Europol mentioned that the coordination and communication with the involved countries’ law enforcement officials, and via Europol’s secure information exchange channels is what led to these results.

And that’s exactly their function, for as it is mentioned on their website, Europol has no executive powers. It is merely a support service for the law enforcement agencies of the EU Member States. Europol officials are themselves not entitled to arrest suspects or act without the approval of national authorities.