Police crack huge Athens sex racket

Police in Athens yesterday claimed to have broken the biggest and most well-organized prostitution ring ever to have operated from the capital, following the arrest of 11 suspected ring members in Greece and abroad. Nine people, including Greeks, Ukrainians and Moldovans, were arrested in Greece, while two of the suspects were arrested in Ukraine. They are believed to have been operating the ring for two years. Another seven suspected ring members are being sought abroad with the help of Interpol, police said. Officers in Greece arrested another 62 people – strip bar owners and alleged prostitutes – on charges of facilitating and profiting from illegal sexual activity. Three Ukrainian women, believed to have been held against their will and forced into prostitution, were to be given protection in women’s shelters. The Ukrainian women’s alleged captors had demanded 30,000 euros from each of them for their release, police said. The rest of the women, mostly from Eastern Europe, are believed to have consented to work as prostitutes. The sweep of arrests followed a two-month investigation culminating on Sunday in 34 simultaneous raids across Attica involving 160 police officers and overseen by five prosecutors and 10 representatives of non-governmental organizations. The drive led to seven apartments in which the alleged prostitutes had been living, several luxury cars believed to have been used for their transfer to appointments and an «operations center» with 36 telephone lines and bulky registers containing clients’ names. According to police, two telephone switchboard operators, eight drivers and 12 prostitutes were employed on each shift. The women allegedly received between 100 and 150 euros for each appointment, 30 or 40 euros of which they would keep. Police also discovered receipts for bank transfers sent abroad, amounting to 200,000 euros. This is believed to have been the ring’s profits for the past two months. Officers are also investigating the possible involvement of a Greek businessman in the ring’s operations as well as the activities of a security firm set up by one of the suspects.

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