SEVEN UKRAINIANS – six men and one woman – have been arrested in the Algarve this week, suspected of being part of an evil gang responsible for the trafficking and torture of illegal immigrants for prostitution, extortion, robbery and falsification of documents, among other charges.
The arrests came following a major operation involving 80 inspectors from the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), the office for foreign citizens and border control, in which a series of raids were made at various locations in the Algarve.
Equipment used to administer electric shocks was retrieved during the busts made at premises used by the ring, indicating that torture was taking place in order to force the women into prostitution and handing over their earnings. In the event of the women offering resistance, they would be punished. The victims of this terrifying abuse were attractive young women, between the ages of 18 and 30, of various nationalities, although all from Eastern European countries.
Electric shock treatment and other actions linked to the gang are now being investigated by the police, in order to ascertain how dangerous the seven detainees are.
During the operation, the SEF inspectors carried out 11 raids at houses and 15 on vehicles, confiscating stolen items found. More than 7,000 euros in cash were discovered, along with proof of bank transfers made
from Portugal to various countries to a value of around 35,000 euros, suggesting that the activities of the gang have proved to be very lucrative.
The apprehension of various false documents confirms the gang had possessed the ability to ‘legalise’ the women they would later exploit.
It is understood that the ring had been under investigation since May of this year and, according to the SEF, their activities spanned the entire Algarve region. However, they were particularly concentrated in Portimão, Lagoa, Albufeira, Faro and Tavira.
The gang made their first appearance at the court of Loulé on Monday of this week, but, at the time of going to press, it was not possible to confirm the interim measures enforced by the court pending the trial proper.
However, due to the evidence that has been collected, it would suggest that the group is dangerous and, in the interests of public safety, should remain in custody.