MADRID – Spanish police have dismantled a ring engaged in sexually exploiting men recruited in Brazil and forced to work around the clock under the threat of death.
The ring succeeded in bringing almost 80 individuals to Spain from the northern Brazilian state of Maranhao, of whom 64 were men and the rest transvestites and women, police told a press conference Tuesday.
Some of the victims, ranging in age from 22 to 29, knew they were coming as prostitutes, though they believed they would be working under different conditions, while the rest had no idea what was in store for them and were convinced they were getting jobs as go-go boys, dancers or models.
Under the threat of death, the men were kept available as sex workers 24 hours a day, and to be able to keep up non-stop sexual relations the ring bosses gave them “poppers” (a sexual stimulant), Viagra and cocaine, the police said.
The victims lived in overcrowded quarters with as many as six to a bed.
For their services they charged 60 euros ($75), but had to hand over half the money to their bosses.
They also had to pay them some 4,000 euros ($5,000) for having brought them to Spain, though at first they were told they would only have to pay the price of the air fare.
Besides handing over half the money they collected, the male prostitutes had to pay the criminals 200 euros ($250) for room and board.
The organization gave each of the victims a carry-on bag and an air ticket, which was purchased with cloned credit cards, and in order not to arouse suspicions they first went through airports in other countries like France and Italy before landing in Spain.
Detained in the operation were 14 people including the head of the ring, of Brazilian origin, as well as 17 of the victims who were in Spain illegally, those in charge of the operation said.
The ring had five apartments in different Spanish provinces, though the victims also practiced prostitution in a brothel.
Investigations into the ring, which attracted clients through ads in the classified section of local newspapers and on various Web sites, where photos of the available men were posted, began in February when one of the victims reported what was going on. EFE