Trafficking.ch, a Swiss anti-trafficking organization working closely with the police to safeguard and stop exploitation, had seen an overrepresentation of female refugees falling victim to trafficking and prostitution in Switzerland.
The refugees are often led into exploitation by traffickers and criminal networks when seeking help to migrate to Europe. The victims are tricked to believe they are getting help with their travels, but instead end up in the criminal’s hands, continuously being exploited both during and after their journey to Europe.
In one of many cases, Trafficking.ch had obtained information on a known trafficker who led female refugees to believe that they would get help in travelling from Nigeria to Europe. Trafficking.ch understood that the information they had on the trafficker was important to identify the person in question, but also crucial to uncover the criminal networks they suspected were behind - and ultimately bring the victims to safety.
By continuously gathering openly available information and cross referencing that with existing data and reports, they hoped to find connections between the known trafficker, possible victims and possible criminal structures.
However, the amount of data quickly accumulated into unstructured and unmanageable quantities. To find the relevant pieces of information could take weeks and sometimes months when done manually. Time in which new people were falling victims to these crimes.
Processing all their incoming and existing data in YOSE made it possible to overview and search through any information they had. They could now easily cross-reference new information with existing intelligence to find possible correlation with previous cases, and thus progress the investigation much quicker.
Using YOSE’s powerful link analytics they immediately identified connections through shared contacts, telephone numbers and aliases, as well as through visual connections like being seen on the same images or videos. YOSE’s abilities to handle any type of data, enabled them to find clues and links practically impossible to do manually.
In their data, they found that the trafficker had multiple connections with a previously investigated criminal group that runs so called connection houses on the route from Nigeria to Europe. They could also identify a shared bank account connecting them to a Madame (the manager and person receiving the victims in Europe) and further more finding where this Madame was located.
As their investigation progressed they forensically documented all their evidence and profiles in Discovry, swiftly turning it into a structured report to be handed over to law enforcement. “It does happen that we have more material than the police do since we have been following these routes and networks over time. And when that is the case, it is of uttermost importance that we have the proper documentation in place”, says Stephan Fuchs at Trafficking.ch.
This intelligence was handed over to the police who later conducted a raid on the suspected address. The case was then confirmed when many exploited women at the location were already known by Trafficking.ch. Having documentation of the route and events these victims had been through substantially eased the process going forward for both the police and the young women. They could be put to safety and out of the hands of whom they had been controlled by.
Trafficking.ch estimates that their analysis was performed up to 10x faster after implementing YOSE and Discovry. They are able to handle data that before was too time consuming and almost impossible to structure and analyze.
The use of Paliscope’s platform has in total helped them find thousands of people, of which:
+2000 are identified within known crime groups
+400 are potential or confirmed victims of trafficking
+70 are potential or confirmed traffickers
Trafficking.ch continues to support law enforcement, Europol and Interpol with insights, knowledge and trainings and hopefully they will be able to put an end to this continuous violence .
We have talked to Stephan Fuchs, one of the founders to Trafficking.ch. Stephan is a former journalist who has interviewed over +150 refugees coming to Europe, gaining insights into the harsh reality that many of these refugees also fall victims to trafficking and prostitution. This eventually brought him to co-found Trafficking.ch, to understand these happenings better and ultimately help save lives.
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