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A criminal network that generated $1.1 million by trafficking Romanian children across Europe and forcing them to pickpocket at tourist hot-spots in Paris has been dismantled, officials said Friday.
Cops in France and Romania arrested 18 people, seized 25,000 euros (around $28,000), and recovered jewelry, gold, luxury watches and TVs during simultaneous raids of 14 houses across both countries, Europe's policing agency Europol said in a statement.
The "large-scale international investigation" had been in the planning since last year, according to Europol, which provided support during the operation.
The 18 suspects were accused of trafficking underage Romanian nationals "into forced criminality" — which, aside from the pickpocketing in Paris, included forced begging, handling stolen goods, and money laundering, the agency said.
The criminal network was "organized on a family and clan-kinship basis" and generated profits of up to 7,000 euros (around $ 7,900) every day, it added.
The policing authority said it estimated the total proceeds were around 1 million euros (around $1.1 million).