Interpol says 700 human trafficking victims rescued across Africa and Gulf

Operation Weka II makes 300 arrests

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A crackdown on human trafficking by Interpol has led to 300 arrests and the rescue of almost 700 people.

Operation Weka II was carried out from June 12 to 17, when officers tracked smugglers and intensified checks at border points.

Arrests and rescues took place throughout Africa and several Gulf nations.

In the UAE, 34 men and women were detained for activities linked to human trafficking, according to a news release from the agency, which has its headquarters in France.

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These key arrests show the extent and value of global operations
Jurgen Stock, secretary general, Interpol

Results so far have led to 300 arrests, including 88 suspected traffickers and 83 migrant smugglers.

“These key arrests show the extent and value of global operations,” said Jurgen Stock, Interpol’s secretary general.

“Not only in the moment, but the long-term impact they have in generating leads, exchanging intelligence and establishing networks that are ready to act when the time is right.”

From Africa to the Gulf

Africa was a key focus for the raids, which in some cases found the destination of victims was the Arabian Gulf.

In Cameroon, three suspects were arrested on suspicion of trafficking 23 young Chadian girls to the Middle East.

In Togo, law enforcement arrested a suspected trafficker who planned to smuggle victims into Kuwait with the promise of work. They were ultimately forced to work to repay considerable travel costs.

Authorities in Oman rescued six victims of human trafficking lured from various African countries through advertisements on social media promising employment.

Lesotho police raided supermarkets where they arrested Chinese and Pakistani citizens for labour-related offences and possession of fraudulent ID documents.

UAE law enforcement officials during an anti-trafficking operation called Operation Liberterra in summer 2021. Photo: Interpol

About 4,000 migrants representing 29 nationalities were identified during the widespread operation, with police focusing operations on dismantling the smuggling networks behind the criminality.

Four armed individuals were intercepted in Niger leading a group of 103 migrants, including four children, while authorities in The Gambia arrested five suspects who were charging migrants $1,000 to be smuggled to the Canary Islands.

In July 2021, the UAE played a key role in a global crackdown on human trafficking with personnel working alongside Interpol to make 286 international arrests.

Operation Liberterra took place over five days, and disrupted 22 criminal networks.

About 430 human trafficking victims were rescued and 4,000 irregular migrants originating from 74 countries were identified and offered support and rehabilitation.

Illegal employment networks

Research from Unseen, an anti-slavery charity in the UK, showed 24.9 million people in the world were victims of forced labour.

Of those, 16 million were exploited in the private sector for jobs in domestic work, construction, farming and agriculture.

It is estimated 4.8 million people are victims of forced sexual exploitation.

Police in Cote d’Ivoire arrested an Ivorian man at Abidjan airport suspected of running a transnational group of criminals trafficking women from Morocco and Guinea to Spain for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The man was first identified during Interpol’s Operation Turquesa II in 2020, as the subject of a Red Notice published by Spanish authorities.

During Operation Weka II, a five-day operation, police made a further 100 arrests for document forgery, organised crime, firearms and drug trafficking offences linked to the groups involved in the illegal movement of people across borders

Updated: June 29, 2022, 1:59 PM
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