Thirty-five people were arrested in the Alentejo region, in southern Portugal, on charges of human trafficking, money laundering and forging documents, the judicial police announced Wednesday.
“The suspects are part of a criminal structure dedicated to the exploitation of migrant workers, most of whom were recruited from their home countries to work on the area’s farms,” the authorities said in a statement.
The police indicated that the suspects, who are men and women between the ages of 22 and 58, hold Portuguese citizenship and from other European countries, without going into further details.
She added that the dozens of victims of this trafficking who have been identified hail from Romania, Moldova, India, Pakistan, Senegal, Morocco and Algeria.
“The migrants work in inhumane conditions with very low wages and live in overcrowded and dilapidated housing,” a police Source told AFP.
Their movement was also restricted due to the confiscation of their identity papers, according to the Source, who spoke of a major operation in an area where many migrant workers work in the agricultural sector.
This campaign, which has been in preparation since January 2022, has mobilized around 400 judicial police inspectors who have carried out 65 raids in the municipalities of Beja, Serpa, Copa and Ferreira do Alentejo.
Portuguese authorities reported 1,152 victims of these networks between 2016 and 2020, according to a report by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Human Trafficking.