NEWS

Turkish police detain sex smugglers and three women

ANKARA (Reuters) – Police in northwestern Turkey have detained a 60-year-old Greek national and three Moldovan women suspected of belonging to a sex-trafficking network, a local official said yesterday. Police also arrested three Turkish hotel owners in the weekend operation in the town of Kesan near the border with Greece, an official at the provincial governor’s office said. The women were to be smuggled into Greece to work at a nightclub as prostitutes, the official said. Impoverished Moldova is Europe’s leading exporter of women to Europe’s sex-slave industry, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said. Thousands of women from the former communist bloc arrive in Turkey each year to work in the sex trade. The country’s porous borders also make it a major transit point for economic refugees and other asylum seekers en route to affluent European nations. The official said 75 would-be migrants had been detained in separate incidents near the Greek and Bulgarian borders since Thursday. Those held included 31 Afghans, as well as Iraqis, Georgians and Malaysians, she said. The EU says this would be tantamount to letting Turkey veto missions of its 60,000-strong crisis management force, due to be fully operational – that is, ready to be deployed within 60 days in and around Europe – by mid-2003.