Cops Say They’ve Taken Down Biggest Chinese Sex Trafficking Operation in Europe

A network that allegedly saw hundreds of women forced into sex work in Europe has been busted, with 28 suspects arrested.
Photo: Europol.

Police claim they have dismantled an international sex trafficking ring that allegedly lured hundreds of women from China to Europe and forced them into sex work.

A total of 28 suspects accused of human trafficking have been arrested, with 27 picked up in the Belgian cities of Antwerp and Brussels, and one detained in Spain. 

Five of those arrested were Chinese. Europol, which helped coordinate the international operation, describe them as being “high-value targets” due to their involvement in “multiple high-profile cases in Europe”.  


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Europol said the action represents the largest Chinese human trafficking bust in European history. The gang’s accused ringleaders are believed to have forced hundreds of women in debt bondage into sex work in slave-like conditions in hotels across Europe.

Over the course of three years, police from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Poland and Switzerland monitored thousands of social media messages by recruiters from the gang, who promised to smuggle women to the European Union, only to exploit them. 

“Once in Europe, the victims were held in bondage and forced to work as prostitutes to pay off debts,” said a statement from Europol.

“The criminals would advertise the women online and set them up in hotels across Europe, rotating their victims between EU countries.”

Nine of the suspects were remanded by prosecutors in Belgium, while the other 18 suspects were released after questioning. In all, 26 locations across Belgium were raided and at least 20 victims of the human trafficking network freed from the gang’s custody.

“A significant proportion of the victims no longer had legal residence status, which increased their dependence on the criminal organisation,” Belgian federal prosecutors told reporters on Wednesday. “The criminal organisation acquired large sums of money, which were transferred abroad through legal and illegal channels.”

Chinese nationals are frequent trafficking victims across Europe often exploited for sex work, or forced to work in brutal, low-paying service industry, industrial and agriculture jobs.