A man in rural Nicosia, who was arrested in early June on charges related to human trafficking and labor exploitation, was one of 229 suspects detained all over Europe during an operation coordinated by Europol.
Cypriot police did not provide numbers or details following a Europol-led operation on human trafficking and labor exploitation but told Knews that a 49-year-old male in Ergates, rural Nicosia, was arrested after authorities got wind of allegations that the suspect was withholding travel documents of five employees at a local farm.
The arrest took place on June 3, during a weeklong operation by Europol in 23 countries, where law enforcement agents carried out inspections and identified 630 possible victims in labor-intensive sectors where low-skilled work is required.
An official report a week after the arrest said allegations had been made regarding living conditions and breach of contract on the farm in Ergates, with the suspect also being accused of withholding travel documents belonging to five foreign nationals.
Cypriot authorities have identified a total of eight individuals as potential victims of exploitation, according to local media.
The suspect has been released on bail and is expected to be arraigned in court on September 13.
Europol said it coordinated the action days and facilitated information exchange between the participating countries, which included 21 EU member states as well as Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Analytical and operational support was also provided around the clock by Europol, which also facilitated real-time exchange of communication between the participating authorities.
The Europe-wide operation also allowed authorities to focus on possible exploitation of asylum seekers during their applications, while enablers involved in human trafficking through the use of fake documents were a primary focus.
Out of the 229 arrests during the Europol operation between 31 May and 6 June, 73 detentions took place on suspicion of offences related to trafficking of human beings.