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Spanish police arrest 7 for human-trafficking

7 April 2007

MADRID, Spain - Spanish police arrested seven people in a crackdown on a human-trafficking ring that allegedly forced Eastern European women into prostitution, officials said Saturday.

Police said the gang, led by a 41-year-old Albanian suspect arrested in Calonge, held around 40 women as virtual sex slaves.

Other members of the gang include three Russians, a native of Kosovo and an Armenian citizen.

The arrests took place in the northeastern Mediterranean coastal region of Costa Brava, where the gang allegedly smuggled in women, mostly from Russia, forcing them to work streetwalking or in roadside brothels, police said.

Police said the group employed two people based in St. Petersburg, Russia, who targeted women by offering jobs in Spain in exchange for �2,000 (US$2,675).

Police said the suspects, whose ages ranged from 20 to 41, had been taken to court in Figueres where they were expected to be charged with coercion, crimes related to prostitution, human-trafficking with a view to prostitution, forgery and belonging to an illegal organization.

According to the Russian Interior Ministry, human trafficking from Russia has increased in recent years.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported last year that more than 500,000 women have been smuggled out of Russia illegally since the fall of the Soviet Union in early 1990s.

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