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Gardaí team up with Europol in operation that saved 30 children from trafficking

Over 1,000 arrests were made across the EU and most arrests made in Ireland were for burglary offences.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA has taken part in a joint operation with police from 34 different countries, coordinated by Europol, to target organised crime groups across the European Union.

‘Operation Archimedes’ involved actions in hundreds of locations, according to Europol. Interventions took place between 15-23 September in hundreds of locations including airports, border-crossing points, ports and specific crime hot spots in towns and cities.

Over 1,000 people were arrested, 599kg of cocaine and 200kg of heroin was seized as well as 1.3 tonnes of cannabis. On top of this, 30 Romanian children were saved from trafficking. Gardaí made 106 arrests in total during the operation.

Arrests in Ireland

Most of the arrests made by gardaí were for burglary offences, 16 were for theft and a small number were arrested for counterfeit offences, criminal damage and possession of offences weapons. One person was arrested of sexual offences and there was also one arrest on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Speaking about the success of the operation, Director of Europol, Rob Wainwright said it was “uprecedented” and the outcome serves as “a reminder to even the most serious criminal groups that the international law enforcement community is determined to combat their illegal activities”.

This week, as EU police chiefs gather at Europol for the 2014 European Police Chiefs Convention, our focus will be on how our combined strengths can best be applied to bringing down even more of the organised criminal groups that threaten the safety and wellbeing of our society.

Authorities from all 28 EU member states were involved, as well as Australia, Colombia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the US.

Trafficking

Today, the Immigrant Council of Ireland also commented on the operation, which involved human trafficking and cybercrime that Europol said included “transnational child sex offenders”.

CEO of the council, Denise Charlton, said Operation Archimedes makes it clear that “people are being trafficked to be sexually exploited right across the continent and that those involved are pocketing billions”.

“200 adult trafficking victims have been rescued as a result of this action as have 30 children, with more than 1,000 arrests also reported – 170 of these are for people trafficking,” she said. “Our politicians should sit up and take note of the size of the figures being revealed by Europol and commit to act now to put those criminals targeting Ireland out of business.”

Though there were no arrests in Ireland for trafficking offences in this operation, another Europol-led investigation in June resulted in the arrest of two Nigerians in Dublin for the suspected trafficking of seven people for sexual exploitation.

ICI is calling on TDs to “end the delay in introducing sex buyer laws” which were recommended by the Oireachtas Justice Committee in June last year. It said measures including the introduction of new offences for child grooming, facilitating a brothel and greater protection for witnesses in trafficking cases are also “urgently required”.

Read: Gardaí believe sex traffickers use voodoo rituals on their victims>

Read: Trafficked Asian nationals forced into drug trade are getting tougher sentences than Irish – MRCI>

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