human trafficking
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28 arrested in mega operation against human trafficking in Alentejo

Immigrants were kept living in a regime of “semi-slavery”

A mega operation against human trafficking headed by PJ Police’s Counter-terrorism Unit led to the arrest of 28 people in the Alentejo on Tuesday.

The operation was carried out in the boroughs of Cuba and Ferreira do Alentejo in Évora and resulted in the dismantling of a criminal network which exploited immigrant workers.

Says PJ, the network would entice foreigners to work at agricultural fields in the Alentejo but would then keep them living in a regime of “semi-slavery”.

The immigrant citizens were mostly recruited in their countries of origin, such as Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, India, Senegal, and Pakistan.

According to the PJ, the suspects are of Portuguese and foreign nationality and are indicted for crimes including criminal association, human trafficking, aiding illegal immigration, recruitment of illegal labour, extortion, money laundering, tax fraud, physical assault, possession of a firearm, and document forgery.

The police force also said that several items of evidence were seized and dozens of victims were identified during the so-called “Operation Espelho” (Operation Mirror).

This operation was aided by Portugal’s Social Security, which dealt with the victims with immediate social support needs, and logistical support from the Portuguese Air Force.

The 28 people arrested are due to appear before a judge.

By Michael Bruxo

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