Seven people were indicted on Tuesday on charges of trafficking in women for prostitution.
The indictment, filed in the Jerusalem District Court, also charged them with pimping, obstructing justice and other crimes. The prosecution asked the court to deny bail to three of the defendants – Vladimir Belov, his wife Zarina and their son Oleg.
According to the indictment, the seven have been bringing in women from the former Soviet Union since April and pimping them in both Jerusalem and Haifa, sometimes in brothels and sometimes in private apartments. The group had partners in both Russia and Ukraine who enticed the women to come to Israel and arranged their transport. The group paid these partners weekly “usage fees” of $200 to $250 per woman.
Customers were charged 400 shekels ($110), with half this sum allegedly going to the defendants.
The women were generally lured in through websites for job hunters. Sometimes, the defendants purportedly sent agents to bring the women to Israel and help them pass border control on the pretext of being tourists.
Altogether, prosecutors say the group brought 11 women to Israel before their operation was discovered in August. Police investigated the case for about two months before arresting the suspects.
The indictment described the ring’s humiliating treatment of the women. For instance, it said, one female defendant “used to scream at the women that they had to work for 40 minutes with each customer, and no less.” The defendant also allegedly demanded a payment of 500 shekels for use of the apartment.
One of the victims, who was employed in a brothel, “worked 14 hours a day and serviced two to eight customers a day,” the indictment said. “Half her earnings were given Defendant 1, and she also paid 100 shekels a day for her apartment and food.”
According to prosecution data, indictments are filed in only 16 percent of all prostitution and human trafficking cases. From 2012 to 2015, 1,561 such cases were opened, but 55 percent were closed for lack of evidence.
These figures include cases in which the victims were Israeli women. There are no separate statistics for cases involving foreign women only.
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