Seventeen potential victims of human trafficking were identified in Cyprus following a Europol-supported investigation into labour exploitation in the agricultural sector in seven countries.
In an announcement on Tuesday, the law enforcement agency of the EU identified 269 possible victims of exploitation in a week-long investigation.
It uncovered that almost half of those 269 were in Italy (134) while France accounted for 91, with a further 24 in Spain and three in Latvia.
The operation, which took place from September 9 to September 16, focused on the workplaces deemed most susceptible to exploitation such as farms and vineyards.
Non-EU nationals were identified as the most vulnerable to exploitation in seasonal employment while the operation targeted criminal networks.
They are specialised in ‘brokering’ employment in the illegal market.
The operation, led by France, involved a wide range of law enforcement authorities including police, immigration and border guards, labour inspectorates and tax authorities from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Spain.
The European Labour Authority also supported the action days. Almost 2050 officers from national authorities took part in the operational activities on the ground.