Police in Spain say they have arrested two people for sexually exploiting more than 120 women, after luring them with false promises of careers in fashion or movies and then forcing them into prostitution.
An investigation found that the suspects had been operating in Spain’s southeastern region of Alicante. The duo, who have not been identified, were charged with continued sexual assault, forced prostitution and falsifying documents, according to a police statement released Saturday.
The two suspects had created a business network of modeling and film production agencies to draw in the women, even creating photo books for each woman they sought to recruit to add to their credibility, the statement says.
Once the women were recruited, the suspects coerced the women into prostitution, police said, adding that some of the victims were forced to wear geolocation devices to ensure they would be available at all times. The suspects threatened or punished those who refused to provide sexual services, imposing fines or cutting off their income.
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Many of the women were forced to work long hours and made to work even when they were ill, according to police.
The case was uncovered after one of the victims came forward and told officers that she had been sexually exploited for five years. The woman, whom police did not name, said she had not spoken out earlier because she feared reprisals.
The suspects also coerced the women into having sex with them under threat of death, police said. The regular attacks, which included sadomasochistic practices, were used as a “test” that the women “had to pass to guarantee that they would satisfy their clients,” the police statement added.
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Police said they conducted several raids at the two suspects’ properties in the towns of Elche and Novelda, where they were able to identify the more than 120 victims and gather evidence against the suspects.
The investigating court ordered their immediate imprisonment. The case remains open, as police think that further victims could come forward.