Women holed up in a sex ‘house of horrors’ are freed as Spanish police shut down multi-million euro human trafficking operation

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A criminal gang believed to have made €5 million through human trafficking for the sex trade and money laundering, among other illegal activities, has been shut down in Madrid and Toledo, and eight women freed from what they described as a ‘house of horrors.’

THE Guardia Civil confirmed the gang forced around 80 young women of various nationalities, mostly from South America, into prostitution and even forced them into having abortions against their will.


As part of the operation, called Maracanai, eight women between the ages of 19 and 34 have been released.

Two people, a man and a woman, both Spanish, have been arrested and seven others have been investigated for crimes of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, membership of a criminal organisation, crimes against public health and money laundering.

The investigation began at the end of 2018, when a woman reportedly being held against her will contacted the police and was placed under a witness protection scheme to give evidence in court.

She was allegedly illegally detained for approximately five years, and identified three towns where the suspects were operating – Seseña Nuevo (Toledo), Fuenlabrada (Madrid) and the city of Madrid.

According to the Guardia Civil, the group captured the victims by means of deception and false expectations of paid work, through people who were dedicated to ‘controlling farms’ where foreign citizens worked irregularly in Spain.

At the same time, they had set up a business network to launder the profits, buying several properties in the province of Madrid, and several high-end vehicles.

It is estimated the illegal profits in the last four years amounts to around €5 million. Police have so far immobilised and blocked several bank accounts and seized properties worth €1 million.

In addition to weapons, various narcotic substances were seized in a number of searches carried out, including more than one kilo of methamphetamine and half a kilo of cocaine, as well as €190,000 in cash hidden in various vacuum-packed packages.

The operation was carried out by the Human Trafficking Section of the Central Operational Unit of the Guardia Civil, with the support of other units of the Corps and NGOs.



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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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