Gardaí visit nail bars and fast-food outlets as part of anti-exploitation operation

Women involved in prostitution in the Republic also identified and offered assistance during Irish element of Europol-coordinated week of action

12/03/2018 Members of the Gardai at a checkpoint on Francis Street , Dublin. Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
A high-visibility policing presence was put in place at railway stations, Dublin Port and airports as part of the operation. Photograph: Collins Photo Agency

Gardaí have visited nail bars, fast-food restaurants and agricultural businesses as part of an operation aimed at identifying foreign nationals trafficked into the Republic for the purposes of labour exploitation.

Women working in prostitution were also spoken to during the weeklong operation and offered information and advice.

A high visibility policing presence was put in place at railway stations, Dublin Port and airports aimed at reaching out to vulnerable people being exploited. Gardaí were trying to identify people arriving into the country, or being moved around, for the purposes of forced labour or the sex-for-sale market.

The emphasis of the Irish operation, which was effectively part of a wider global policing week of action, was on reaching vulnerable people and victims rather then executing search warrants or arresting perpetrators. The operation focused on mafia-type, ethnicity- and family-based crime organisations.


It is understood gardaí visited a number of premises – including in Dublin, Clare and Limerick – with a view to detecting obvious signs of labour-based exploitation. These included foreign workers not being able to produce identity of travel documents because they were being held by others in control of them.

Det Supt Derek Maguire of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau said the co-ordinated operation, under Europol, on June 3rd-9th demonstrated the ability of the Garda and police forces from more than 40 other countries “to combat the organised crime gangs that target the most vulnerable in our society”.

He said: “We are committed to supporting victims of human trafficking, and to bringing persons intent on exploiting human beings for personal gain, to justice.”

The Garda operation involved members of the Human Trafficking Investigation and Coordination Unit being present at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, Connolly train station in Dublin and Dublin Port to identify possible victims of trafficking and exploitation and to raise awareness.

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Gardaí – including those from the protective services bureau and Garda National Immigration Bureau, as well as officials from the Workplace Relations Commission – visited premises in Dublin, Clare and Limerick.

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“A number of potential victims of human trafficking were spoken to at the locations,” the Garda said in a statement. “A number of females were identified as working in the sex industry and all were provided with information on support organisations.”

While some of the other European police forces – and those in Nigeria, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Brazil and Colombia – unearthed extreme cases of exploitation, the Garda did not detect the same types of cases.

In Hungary, for example, the police arrested a couple who had sold their children for sex to people living locally, forced them into street begging and beat them as well as tying them up in a room.

In Laos a Chinese interpreter was found to have duped 14 Vietnamese nationals into working on online financial scams with the promise of high-paid jobs.

As part of the operation, some 219 suspects were arrested, mostly across Europe, with 1,221 adult victims and 153 child victims assisted. Some 363 documents were also seized and 276 investigations commenced.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times