Court convicts 4 Israelis of heading international human trafficking ring

The Tel Aviv District Court convicted Thursday four Israelis of heading a massive human-trafficking ring that reached out of Israel’s borders to such countries as Cyprus, Belgium and England, forcing hundreds of women into prostitution.

At the end of a two-year international investigation, the suspects were arrested in 2009 along with over 20 suspects in several other countries. The convicted ringleader, Rami Saban, a 37-year-old resident of Magadim, was previously under investigation for alleged involvement in bringing hired killers from Belarus to assassinate leading Israeli underworld figure Nissim Alperon.

Along with Saban, the court also convicted three of his accomplices, including brothers David and Yaakov Moraidi and Shmuel Malka.

In what the verdict called “one of the most complex and extensive human-trafficking affairs to be uncovered in recent years, if not ever,” Saban and his associates used a network which located hundreds of you women in towns and villages in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Uzbekistan.

Contacts would then persuade the women to arrive in Israel, promising them that they would be employed as waitresses and bar dancers. In some of the cases, the suspects violently abused the women, who were smuggled into Israel from Egypt and Turkey.

According to the court’s verdict, some of the defendants owned and operated 12 brothels in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan between 1999 and 2004, later operating a phone sex line between 2005 and 2006.

The suspects received between $5,000-$7,000 for each woman, depending on her physical appearance, and in some cases Saban was introduced as a partner in the establishments in which the women were employed, receiving 30% of the profits.

Some of the women were told that they would have to work for free or for very low sums of money at first, ostensibly to cover the cost of bringing them to Israel, with the women being paid between 100 and 400 NIS for their services.