As a result of a criminal investigation conducted by the Foreigners and Borders Service, (SEF) between 2010 and 2013, the DIAP of Coimbra has indicted of 20 people, based in Portugal and abroad for human trafficking and criminal association.

The twenty defendants are accused of, in total, over a hundred crimes of trafficking in persons, and also charged with aiding illegal immigration and pimping.

The group, led by a Portuguese citizen, over a period of about a decade arranged foreign women, generally originating in South America but also in Eastern Europe, placing them in Portugal and Spain to conduct prostitution.

During the investigation stage, the investigative steps were conducted by SEF, in an operation that led to the dismantling of the group, the arrest of one of the main leaders of the organization, the closure of one of the centres operated by the group and seized several vehicles used in connection with the crimes.

Women were usually recruited through press advertisements, being hired as dancers or in domestic helpers lured with monetary rewards.

They were assessed by the Group’s employees in their countries of origin, and were usually of low levels of education and socio-economic situation. They were then transported to Spain, directly to an establishment for prostitution operated by the organization in that country, where their identification and travel document were confiscated.

They were then required to pay debts that, in some cases more than ten times higher than the costs of the cost of the trip. Under duress, threats and physical assaults they were forced into prostitution.

As the debt grew as a result of being charged for housing and other expenses related to the practice of prostitution, they operated in other establishments that the organization managed in Portugal in the districts Viseu, Castelo Branco and Guarda.