Spain Dismantles Sex Trafficking Ring That Treated Women like Slaves

Published: 11 July 2023

Spain Police Sexual Exploit

According to Spanish autorithies, the victims were forced to work in deplorable conditions and subjected to a severe regime close to slavery. (Photo: Policia Nacional/Twitter, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

Spanish authorities have dismantled a sex trafficking ring that enslaved women and forced them to take drugs. Police detained four people, accusing them of luring vulnerable women through relatives and online prostitution platforms and exploiting them.

According to a police statement published on Saturday, the victims were recruited mainly from South America. They were promised that they would be free to choose their own working hours, schedule, and the sexual services they would perform.

But once they arrived in Madrid, the women were forced to work 24/7, wear sexy clothes and makeup at all times, in case a client showed up, and were punished if they refused to provide any sexual service.

The victims were only allowed to keep a maximum of 25 euros from the 60 to 120 euros that were charged for their sexual service, with the housekeeper keeping the rest. Those 25 euro they were forced to spend on food and other goods, including even toilet paper.

If a client was not satisfied, the victim was forced to perform another service without receiving any money.

To keep the women under control, the members of the criminal network threatened them with weapons, threatened them with deportation and humiliated those who complained or asked to leave the brothel. The women were also locked up until they complied and were forced to consume narcotics every day.

Over the last year, Spanish officials have investigated 300 reports filed by "clients, neighbors, or prostitutes themselves," as reported by the national newspaper Vozpopuli.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, there was a 24% reduction in the detection of trafficked victims in 2022 compared to 2019.

"During the protective measures applied in response to the COviD-19 pandemic, sexual exploitation may have reduced due to the closure of public spaces, and it may have also been pushed into less visible and less safe locations, making this form of trafficking more concealed and harder to detect," the report said.