Police have arrested 40 suspected members of a Russian-Israeli prostitute smuggling ring in the last few days. The gang is believed to have brought hundreds of women into Israel in the past decade.

The suspects allegedly took advantage of a lack of coordination between government offices and brought the women in under the Law of Return, establishing bogus family ties and claiming grants from the Absorption Ministry.

Among the 40 is the alleged head of the organization, Genady Bosolovich, an Israeli resident. Police seized bank accounts, luxury cars, and cash valued at several million shekels.

The investigation began several few months ago, starting with information the police interrogation division gathered about an international ring smuggling women to Israel as new immigrants.

"We discovered a well-oiled forgery machine that created fictitious individuals and families, and a system that took advantage of the fact that Israel welcomes new immigrants," said Jerusalem District Police commander Major General Ilan Franko.

Police believe members of the crime ring approached women in difficult circumstances in Russia and the Ukraine and offered work in Israel as strippers or prostitutes. They persuaded the women to establish fictitious Jewish families in their home country.

Chief Superintendent Yoram Halevy, commander of the Jerusalem police central unit, said the gang would then forge immigration documents for the women and a fictitious husband and they would adopt the identity of a real Jewish couple.

The couple would learn the biography of the real couple to pass the Israeli embassy's examination of every potential immigrant.

In some cases the smugglers created entire multi-generation families requesting immigration documents so as to increase the immigration allowances. Sometimes the prostitute would team up with a real Jewish man and present them as a couple - even to producing a bogus wedding video.

"When the `family' arrived in Israel, they would break up right away," Halevy said." The man faded from the picture or sometimes was sent back with the children to Russia or Ukraine to bring in more women."

He said the gang took advantage of "a lack of coordination between Israeli embassies and government offices, each of which closes off only its own role, leaving other authorities wide open."

The women allegedly signed contracts for 2-4 years, requiring them to work at brothels and pay the gang $36,000, as well as depositing the absorption allowances they received into the ring's bank account.