T.A. Police Smash International Human Trafficking Ring

According to suspicions, ring forced women from former Soviet Union to engage in prostitution in Israel.

Tel Aviv police on Saturday night arrested 12 people suspected of operating an international human trafficking ring.

Among those arrested is a moshav member from the north who is suspected of running the ring, which has smuggled hundreds of women from the former Soviet Union into Israel over the past few years.

According to suspicions, the ring forced the women to engage in prostitution in clubs and brothels, under threat of violence.

Early on in the investigation, which was opened two years ago, police investigators succeeded in recruiting an undercover agent who had infiltrated the ring, whose headquarters were in Israel.

During the course of the investigation, detectives discovered that the central suspect ran the ring through a network of criminals who, at his behest, located hundreds of women from villages and small towns in Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Uzbekistan, and manipulating them in to traveling to Israel.

The suspects promised the women that they would be employed in Israel as waitresses and club dancers.

In some cases the suspects coerced the women into making the voyage through the use of extreme violence.

The women were smuggled into Israel through Egypt, by land, and Turkey, by air.

Over a year ago, in a joint effort with Russian police, 13 Israelis and Russians were arrested over involvement in the trafficking ring. Those suspects are currently under arrest in Russia.

"Over the past year it has become clear to us that the suspects in Russia began to fear the punishments awaiting them in Israel upon their extradition, and the ring leaders began to divert their activity to Cyprus, where they opened strip clubs in which hundreds of women were forced, through use of threats and violence, to prostitute themselves," said a Tel Aviv police officer familiar with the investigation.

During the course of the investigation detectives succeeded in documenting the trafficking ring's methods of recruitment, including the use of violence against women.

All of the suspects were transferred to the Tel Aviv police Central Investigations Unit for further questioning. They will be brought before a Tel Aviv court later Sunday for the extension of their remand.