Police dismantle sex-trafficking ring using sham civil partnership agreements

The Hellenic Police (ELAS) on Sunday announced the dismantling of an extensive sex-trafficking ring that used sham civil partnership agreements to get legal residence permits for the women it smuggled into Greece to work as prostitutes and hostesses.

Following an orchestrated police operation in Athens, Messinia and Mykonos, Greek authorities made 13 arrests and took five Greek men and eight foreign women into custody. They will face serious criminal charges, including those of forming a criminal organisation, prostitution, facilitating debauchery, extracting false certifications, presenting fake documents and violations of immigration law.

Charges have also been brought against another 10 men and two women in the case, while another seven women were detained for violating laws on prostitution and foreign nationals.

Police estimate that the group has been in operation for the last three years, tricking women from mainly Eastern Europe to come to Greece with the promise of legal employment. On arrival, however, they were taken to houses in Attica and their travel documents were taken away, while they were coerced into working in clubs, bars and unregistered brothels and engaging in acts of prostitution through the use of threats or force.

The group also filed mendacious lawsuits against any women that managed to escape them, forcing other women to testify as witnesses against them, in order to make any reports they filed with the authorities appear unreliable.

According to the findings of a police investigation, the members of the ring had sexually exploited at least 25 women in this way over the past six months. Evidence found in raids on the suspects’ homes and business premises included large sums of cash, two cars, mobile phones, documents used to draw up the sham civil partnerships, numerous receipts for the filing of residence permit applications and handwritten notes.

The men and women arrested were led before a public prosecutor while the police investigation is continuing.