Arrests in Spain amid probe of sexual exploitation of displaced Ukrainian women

Arrests in Spain amid probe of sexual exploitation of displaced Ukrainian women

The five arrested suspects believed to be part of a human trafficking ring lured their Ukrainian victims with refugee status arrangements and false job promises.

That’s according to Europol.

The criminal group, active since 2020, recruited its victims online, mainly through social media platforms while presenting themselves as managers in a recruitment agency. The victims were lured with job offers for hostesses and front-of-house roles. The alleged traffickers then exploited the women, mainly Ukrainian, in a prostitution club in El Ejido, Spain.

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The victims were targeted based on their nationality and brought to Spain with tourist visas, while being promised legitimate work in the entertainment and tourist industry. Once in Spain, they were instructed to apply for temporary protection due to the war in Ukraine. Following this process, the victims were granted residency in Spain. The young women were promised work authorisation benefits that come with this protection.

However, they were deceived by the suspects. The victims did not receive any employment contract and they were then exploited through prostitution activities. The criminal group generated vast illegal proceeds through the exploitation of large numbers of women. The victims were accommodated in three homes provided by the same individual who managed the night club. By isolating the victims from the rest of society, the traffickers attempted to minimize the risks of police detection or the escape of the women, allowing them to restrain, control and fully exploit the victims.

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Europol facilitated the exchange of information and provided continuous analytical support to the Spanish police investigation. On the action day, Europol deployed an expert in the field to cross-check operational information in real time and provide experts with possible leads and technical support.

During the raid, five culprits were arrested, including a Spanish national, two Russians, and two Ukrainians.

Fourteen victims have been identified and five locations have been searched.

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