Swedish police have praised the PSNI for helping end an international manhunt which saw two suspected members of a human trafficking gang charged in Stockholm yesterday.
Ilie Ionut, 31, the alleged leader of the gang, and his alleged lieutenant Ancuta Schwarz, 28, are facing charges of human trafficking, prostitution, aggravated pimping and witness intimidation. Both are Romanian nationals.
They were seized on European arrest warrants in Romania and Northern Ireland in May as part of a Europol investigation involving the PSNI and police in Sweden and Romania.
Swedish police paid tribute to the PSNI, which contacted them last year to say that an alleged gang member they had been watching, understood to be Ionut, suddenly moved to Stockholm.
Ionut and Schwarz are accused of sexually exploiting a dozen very poor Romanian women over an extended period of time for significant profits. Prosecutors say they earned a million Krona from just one woman in only 100 days.
Schwarz is accused of booking hotels and apartments, and placing internet adverts while Ionut allegedly managed his business while living temporarily in Galway and later Belfast.
They are accused of exploiting Victim A in Stockholm and Northern Ireland, through threats and violence. She was isolated, had no money or documents and was dependent on her abusers. Ionut is also accused of threatening the victim from jail.
Five members of the public are also charged with buying sexual services from the gang in Stockholm.
In April the PSNI arrested two suspects and rescued two victims in Belfast as part of their still ongoing investigation.