Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

sef portugal

The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) has detained, today, in the Aveiro area, Albergaria-a-Velha, Ílhavo and Gafanha da Nazaré, eight foreign nationals indicted for the crimes of trafficking in human beings, criminal association, aggravated pimping and money laundering, belonging to an organised criminal group dedicating to the sexual exploitation of women.

Under the operation “El Pibe", SEF has complied with eight detention warrants, has carried out twelve house searches and twelve vehicle searches, and has apprehended six, as well as gold, jewellery, money and false documents. During the operation, searches to two money transfer agencies, as well as a travel agency, have been carried out.

The detainees will be now handed over to Cometlis, in Lisboa, where they will remain detained until being brought before the judicial authorities for the enforcement of the corresponding cautionary measures.

This group was operating in Portugal, and in other countries of the European Union (EU) as well, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the victims frequently belonging to unstructured families with scarce economic income and no or low self-esteem, with episodes of domestic violence and alcohol and drug consumption.

The victims, all women, were not into prostitution wilfully and upon themselves, but were forced to it and deprived of their human dignity. They were used as objects to earn money, in order to pay for the debts and “commissions" imposed by the criminal association leader. Violating unscrupulously the human dignity, they were considered and treated as “things" or “objects" providing huge financial profit. Because they did not have a family support and did not have safe relations, the exploiters took the advantage of these vulnerabilities to increase their powers of persuasion, manipulation and intimidation.

In this operation, SEF had the cooperation of elements of the Multidisciplinary Team of Victim Support, in order to ensure the protection and the psychological support to about 20 women flagged.

The operation “Pibe" had the participation of about 110 elements of SEF's Inspections and Supervision Career, analysts from Europol and elements of the authorities alike of countries of the European Union.

The SEF investigation began December last year, and has been led in conjunction with Europol, in order to ensure a transnational combat to this phenomenon.

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