Seven arrested after police raids

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OPERATION ETHEREAL: Aimed to crack down on the trafficking of women.

POLICE have arrested seven Bulgarians – six men and a woman – suspected of trafficking women to work in sex clubs.

Four women were freed by units of the Guardia Civil who had been monitoring the activities of a group involved in the exploitation of women, since March.

Police report that one of those arrested is considered to be the leader who has previous convictions for trafficking in several countries and was being sought by a number of forces outside Spain.

The arrests were the culmination of Operation Ethereal which aimed to crack down on the trafficking of women into Spain for the purposes of prostitution.

Those arrested are aged between 23 and 49 and are suspected of offences including sexual exploitation, laundering money and membership of a criminal group. 

They were taken into custody during operations in the provinces of Alicante, Málaga and Gran Canaria.

The women were typically tricked into coming to Spain by promises of good wages in a short period and then subjected to physical violence and intimidated to force them to stay.

Some women were taken to so-called luxury clubs while the rest were forced into prostitution on the streets.

The victims of the gang were moved between various locations including Benalmadena, Benidorm, Palma in Majorca and Ibiza.

Three of those arrested have been detained in custody while the other four have been released on conditional bail.

Detectives acting in tandem with the Bulgarian police have not ruled out more arrests with some expected outside Spain.

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