Garda operation sees dozens questioned on suspicion of buying sex

Suspected brothel-keeper arrested and woman identified as possible trafficking victim

Gardaí also seized over €10,000 believed to be the proceeds of crime from the sex trade. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Gardaí also seized over €10,000 believed to be the proceeds of crime from the sex trade. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Gardaí searched 5 8 premises and questioned almost 80 people suspected of paying for sex, as part of an EU-wide initiative targeting human trafficking.

One man was also arrested on suspicion of running a brothel and one woman was identified as a victim of sexual exploitation during the nationwide operation, the Garda said.

Under legislation passed in 2017, it is illegal to purchase sexual services from a trafficked person.

As part of the operation, the Garda focused on enforcing this aspect of the legislation in 16 Garda divisions on November 11th and 12th. The operation was led by the National Protective Services Bureau (NPSB), supported by local protective services bureaux and detectives.

“Safeguarding” visits were conducted with 45 people working in the sex trade and another 77 people were questioned “on suspicion of having purchased sexual activity”.

Fifty-eight locations “related to the sex trade” were targeted and one man suspected of running a brothel was detained. Gardaí also seized over €10,000 believed to be the proceeds of crime from the sex trade.

Similar operations were conducted in 29 other countries during the same period, in what the Garda said was a “large-scale international action against trafficking in human beings”.

Forced criminality

This involved investigations into sexual exploitation, forced criminality, and forced begging. The initiative was led by Romania and Austria and co-ordinated by Europol.

It involved the checking of over 147,000 people and almost 100,000 vehicles. A total of 212 people were arrested for offences including trafficking in human beings, money laundering, pimping and fraud, Europol said.

About 650 potential human trafficking victims, including 57 children, were identified. They came from four continents.

“There were also seizures of goods such as false driver’s licenses, weapons and hard drugs. The information gleaned from these action days has led to the opening of 327 new cases, along with the possible identification of further suspects and of human trafficking,” Europol said in a statement.

“This enhancement of co-operation between EU agencies, national law enforcement, and actors such as passenger information units will inform similar future investigations into these serious criminal activities.”