Thursday, October 6, 2011

Police: Raid frees 30 from alleged forced prostitution

Police in Barcelona have arrested 39 members of a suspected Chinese mafia and freed 30 young Chinese women whom they allegedly forced into prostitution, a senior officer of the Catalan regional police told CNN Wednesday.

The arrests occurred earlier this week after a long investigation. It was the biggest strike to date against Chinese-run mafias involved in forced prostitution in the northeast region of Catalonia, whose capital is Barcelona, said the senior officer, Xavier Cortes, head of the Catalan police unit that fights human trafficking.

In recent years, the Chinese crime syndicate had crowded out others from the prostitution market in the fashionable Eixample district of Barcelona by using forced prostitution and charging below-market rates, Cortes said.

The women were forced to work in unsanitary conditions and in marathon sessions, seeing eight clients in a row for an hour each, he said.

After initial arraignments, a judge ordered 33 of the suspects to remain in prison. Six others were released but remain under investigation, and must check in regularly with authorities, Cortes said. more