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10 Nov, 2009 19:14

Sex slavery criminal operatives caught red-handed

Fourteen people from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have been arrested for allegedly trafficking hundreds of women in the sex trade.

They are part of a gang that has been on the radar of Russian authorities for years. They’re accused of luring women to Moscow, creating fake passports for them, and trafficking them through different “safe” routes to Europe.

The Federal Security Service, the FSB, has charged the group with sending hundreds of women to European countries and forcing them into prostitution.

Eight people were arrested in Russia. Six others were detained abroad, while 20 others are thought to also be in connection with the case.

“We are conducting an investigation of a criminal case of human trafficking,” said Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Russian Investigation Committee. “We know that in 2009 this organized group, which included residents of different Russian regions, used illegal immigration channels to Western European countries and sent over 40 young women to Italy, Spain and Greece and forced them into prostitution.”

It is said that the gang was receiving at least 2,000 euros per person. The group’s activity allegedly spread throughout Russia as part of a well-established organization.

“This group had a strict organization – budget, hierarchy, rules,” Markin said. “Every member had a specific role and functions.”

It was headed by a woman from the city of Kostroma in central Russia.

“For conspiracy reasons, members frequently changed their cell phone numbers,” Markin said. “They had transition points, where women stayed for a short time and received fake traveling documents.”

Yaroslava Tamkova, a Russian journalist who investigated sex trafficking and narrowly escaped herself when she was in Israel, reminds women that anyone can become a victim of the illegal sex trade and urges others, including the government, to be mindful of these groups’ tactics.

“It’s good that media has now started a lot of coverage showing gangs being caught or girls found after all they’ve been through,” she said. “Girls do need to know that if a friend of theirs comes and says that she earned a lot of money somewhere working as a housekeeper, it might be a lie.”

The group will be detained until the investigation is completed.

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