RIGA - A number of suspected criminals allegedlyinvolved in an international ring that sent Baltic women to work as prostitutes to the United Kingdom are facing criminal chargesin Latvia.
Representatives of the special prosecutor's office for organized crime told theBaltic News Servicethat the trafficking ring consisted of five Latvian residents and three Polishnationals, and had been sending women to foreign countries for prostitution since2001.
So far charges have been brought against fourmen who had been working as security guards and two women, including one who has been tried for a similar offense inthe past. The prosecution is also preparing to charge three Poleswho are thought to be residing in England.
The investigation has established 11 counts of sending women to foreigncountries for providing sex services. Nine women became victims of humantrafficking.
The charges also include one count of human trafficking. A woman from Latviahad been offered a well-paid job in England, but when she arrived in there shewas forced to work as a prostitute.
All the victims in the case are adult residents of Latvia, but investigatorshave found that the criminals have also been recruiting women in othercountries of the former communist bloc, including Ukraine, Poland and Moldova.
When the women arrived in London, they were accommodated in flats where they had to provide sex services tothe clients of the criminal gang. The women had to give up 75 percent of theirearnings to their bosses.
One of the alleged leaders of the gang - a Pole - has been sentenced in Latvia inthe past for sending people to foreign countries for prostitution.
Latvian police said they had been working on the case for one and a half years andhad also seized illegal ammunition and explosives during the course of the probe.
Under Latvian law, the maximum punishment for the offenses is a jail term of up to 15-years.