Three members of a sex trafficking ring have been arrested thanks to Hungarian-German international cooperation by Europol. The gang was preying on Hungarian women and forced a total of 25 victims into prostitution in Berlin. One of them is still at large, with domestic and European arrest warrants against him.
Based on evidence collected so far, the group had been trafficking vulnerable women from Hungary to Germany since 2017. The victims were transported by bus or plane, and once at the destination, they were forced into prostitution. In several cases, one of the group members – a so-called lover boy – groomed and lured the girls into prostitution by pretending to love them, reported police.hu.
The authorities managed to identify a total of 25 victims. Upon their arrivals in Berlin, the victims got a briefing. The criminals established the exact pricing of the sexual services. They also determined the amount of the minimum daily limit the girls had to earn. After that, they were forced to work on the streets controlled and ‘protected’ by the criminal gang. They were kept under close surveillance and had to report on every transaction.
The girls had to pay 150 EUR (60,721 HUF) to their traffickers every day. It was the fee for using the sections of the street controlled by the criminal gang. It was not unusual to have all of their earnings taken away. If they could not deliver the minimum amount, they were threatened and beaten. This is how the trafficking ring broke down its victims.
The traffickers abused the women both physically and mentally to make sure they would keep working and would not dare to seek help. There was also an example where the lover boy threatened one of the victims, who had already been interrogated by authorities as a witness. He said if the woman snitched to the police, she would be badly beaten.
On the 21st of September, in Budapest and Berlin, the houses of three members of the criminal gang were raided simultaneously. The 32-year-old József B. was arrested at his place of residence in Budapest. He was interrogated as a suspect and taken into criminal custody. In Germany, the local and Hungarian authorities arrested two other leaders of the criminal gang. 40-year-old Zsolt L. and 45-year-old Ildikó C., were placed in extradition custody. The German court will decide on their transfer to Hungary.
The police are still looking for the fourth member of the criminal gang, 30-year-old Csaba Pusztai. The man’s current whereabouts are unknown, so the Készenléti Rendőrség Nemzeti Nyomozó Iroda (Emergency Police National Investigation Office) issued a domestic and European arrest warrant against him.