Gardai, the Workplace Relations Commission, Revenue and the Department of Social Protection have taken part in a pan-European operation targeting human trafficking for labour exploitation and related offences.

The operation, under the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), took place last month, but details have only emerged now.

Here in Ireland the action was co-ordinated by gardaí attached to the Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU) and Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

126 entities were inspected over the two days of the operation by the various agencies, with two further inspections following a number of days later by the specialist gardai.

Gardai said that as a result of these inspections a number of letters were issued to individuals about their immigration status in Ireland.

Across Europe the operation was supported by Europol and led by the Netherlands, alongside France, Italy, Romania and the UK.

29 countries took part as well as the European Labour Authority and European Commission and national authorities including police, immigration, border guards, labour inspectorates and tax agencies.

18,500 officers searched more than 10,467 locations, 32,525 vehicles and more than 86,000 people.

In particular there was a focus on labour intensive sectors such as mining, home healthcare services, nail bars, cleaning services, restaurants and food delivery.

A significant number of companies linked to infringements of employment law were identified and 500 individuals working undeclared were identified.

"This means the employers in question did not ensure that their employees had access to healthcare insurance in case of accidents, or any other social benefits and rights that they were entitled to according to employment law," Europol said.

59 arrests were subsequently made with 487 possible victims of exploitation identified.

Around 1,100 workers affected by labour infringements were identified as were 514 employers who were linked to them.

34 forged documents were also found.

The actions have led to around 80 new investigations being commenced and a further 715 new inspections or further administrative investigations.