STA, 9 March 2020 - Celje criminal investigators are filing preliminary criminal charges against four suspects and a legal entity for forcing at least 24 foreign women, most of them from Ukraine, into prostitution.
Presenting the conclusions of an investigation that had been running for more than a year, Boštjan Hmelak, the head of the organised crime division at the Celje Police Department, said none of the suspects, aged between 42 and 74, had previous criminal records.
They face charges on a total of 25 counts of crime, including human trafficking, which carries between three and 15 years in prison as well as a fine.
The police inquiries established that the ring lured young women from abroad, mostly from Ukraine and socially deprived areas, by means of ads and personal contacts.
After putting them up in a hotel with a night club and a casino, the suspects forced the victims into prostitution. If they resisted, the women were punished by being deprived of their earnings or having their contracts cancelled.
The suspects also made money from the clients who had to pay the women costly drinks as a precondition for sexual services.
The investigators have so far identified 24 victims of human trafficking. Aged between 24 and 40, most come from Ukraine, one is a Romanian citizen and one comes from Moldova.
They have since returned home or left to work at other clubs. None of the 12 women interviewed by the police identified themselves as victims of crime.
The suspects were in control of eight to twelve victims on average each of whom had about 250 patrons a month, said Hmelak.
One of the suspects, employed as a waitress, was found with EUR 104,000 in cash on herself. The police are yet ascertaining how much all the suspects had made from criminal activity.