Massive human trafficking operation snares 28 people and around 100 victims in Portugal

Image of a Polícia Judiciária station in Portugal.

Image of a Polícia Judiciária station in Portugal. Credit: X@PJudiciaria

A total of 28 people were arrested this Tuesday, November 21, following a massive operation conducted by the National Counter-Terrorism Unit of Portugal’s Polícia Judiciária.

As a result of ‘Operation Mirror’ – headed by the DIAP of Évora – aimed at combating human trafficking, at least 100 immigrants were located in several cities and parishes in the Baixo Alentejo region.

Around 480 police officers executed 78 home and non-domestic search warrants, resulting in the detention of the male and female suspects, of both of Portuguese and foreign nationality, according to a statement released by the police.

These suspects were said to be part of a criminal structure dedicated to exploiting the work of immigrant citizens, the majority of whom were recruited from their countries of origin.

Where did the victims come from?

They were brought from Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, India, Senegal, and Pakistan, among others. Once in Portugal, they were sent to work on agricultural farms in the Baixo Alentejo region, especially in the towns of Cuba in Faro do Alentejo and Peroguarda in Ferreira do Alentejo.

The detainees were reported to be heavily indicted for committing crimes of criminal association, human trafficking, aiding illegal immigration, obtaining illegal labour, extortion, money laundering , tax fraud, attacks on physical integrity, possession of a firearm and the forgery of documents.

How did the crimes come to light?

Manuela Santos, an inspector from the National Counter Terrorism Unit in Lisbon, said that the report of these crimes of exploitation came from people who lived close to those properties and not from the victims themselves, ‘since they found themselves in a situation of great fragility’.

‘People were attracted by advertisements. We are talking about an area (Alentejo) that is aging and lacking in human resources’, he explained, as reported by

According to the inspector, the workers earned between €100 and €250 euros per month, when they were promised ‘800, 900, a thousand or more’. Allegedly, the difference was ‘retained’ to pay for accommodation, food and transport.

As a result of today’s operation, the police reported that several pieces of evidence were seized, as well as the identification of dozens of victims. Logistical support was provided by the Portuguese Air Force.

The detainees will face their first judicial interrogation tomorrow, with a view to subjecting them to the coercive measures deemed appropriate concluded the police statement.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at